Saturday, February 21, 2009

Max Payne

I don’t recall hearing much of anything about this movie when it came out. I knew it was based on a video game, and my impression is that the reviews weren’t very good. Bad reviews have never stopped me from watching a movie, though.

MAX PAYNE opens like a pretty typical hardboiled cop movie. The title character is an apparently burned-out homicide detective who’s little more than a glorified file clerk in the Cold Case division. On his own time, though, he’s trying to track down the murderers of his wife and child. But then, a little way into the film, the plot takes a sudden twist with the introduction of a new designer drug that makes people hallucinate about sinister winged creatures . . . or are those creatures actually real? Then there are more bizarre elements piled on, so for a little while you don’t know if you’re watching a cop movie or a fantasy movie or what.

And then MAX PAYNE proceeds to take the most utterly predictable road it possibly can. The explanation for all the weird stuff that’s going on? It’s exactly what you think it is. You sit there and think, “Well, this guy’s dead meat,” and sure enough, a few minutes later, he is. The blinking neon signs identifying the bad guys couldn’t be much bigger or brighter.

But (you knew this was coming) I kind of liked it anyway. The cast is good, the photography is really nice at times, and the pace never lets up for very long. Most of the action scenes are okay, although there’s some of that quick-cut editing most of us old geezers don’t like. And despite the predictability of the plot, there are a few moments that are actually pretty suspenseful. You can’t help but like and root for Max Payne as played by Mark Wahlberg, who’s become a pretty dependable action star. There’s even a set-up for a sequel at the end, and if they make it, I’ll probably watch it.

So while I think MAX PAYNE could have been a much better movie if they had ratcheted up the weirdness a little more and not taken the easy way out at every turn, it’s an enjoyable enough way to spend a couple of hours, especially on a Friday evening when there are also a couple of pizzas involved. That’s the way I recommend you watch it.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Sounds like a good way to spend tonight with a big snow storm headed our way.

Cullen Gallagher said...

"there’s some of that quick-cut editing most of us old geezers don’t like"

You're not the only one who is sick of gimmicky fast cuts. I haven't seen this movie yet, but I think a lot of that fast cutting also hides poor direction. Make everything move so fast that an audience can't possibly follow what's going on.

Chris said...

The thing that surprised me about this movie was how short a run it had in theaters and how quickly it appeared on DVD.

Nice review. I might check it out!

Juri said...

The video game it's based on is Finnish in origin. I'm no video game player, but the concept sounded intriguing. The movie came out also here in Finland, but only for a short time as well.

The VG makers (editors? directors? planners?) are doing another cop game, Alan Wake, I think it is. Probably will make its way into big screen, too.

James Reasoner said...

There's quite a bit about Norse mythology in this movie, so I'm not surprised that the source material comes from that part of the world.

Ray said...

I have rather ignored the movie - mainly because I didn't like the game. It was like Mad Max meets Mickey Spillane with John Woo action and Matrix slo-mos.
From the sound of things the movie ends the same way as the game.
Should 'Alan Wake' ever materialise then that looks interesting - the graphics are a treat and the trailer is a good seller. It has the 'Silent Hill' feel about it - just hope it's not another shoot 'em up.
Mind you I like the premise 'It is all in your head' as an author finds his book coming alive around him.