It is mind boggling and just down right impossible to believe that anyone could have read the screenplay for Max Payne and thought it was good. And even if, for the sake of argument, there was a draft of the script that wasn't a poorly written jumbled mess of confusing clichés and hackneyed storytelling, it is pretty obvious that that version was not the one used to make Max Payne. The script used for the version of Max Payne that stunk up theaters last year, and is now stinking up DVD shelves, is bad. Really bad. Really f***ing bad. Which raises the very valid question of who read this steaming pile of fetid crap and thought it was worth making into a movie?
Mark Wahlberg stars as Max Payne, a brooding police detective working the cold case division with the hopes he'll find a lead into the murder of his wife and child. When the dead body of a beautiful woman Max met at a club turns up in an alley, with his wallet at the scene of the crime, he becomes a prime suspect in the murder. While investigating the murder, Max's former partner uncovers something that might be a surprise to anyone who's either never watched a movie before, or who's simply a freakin' moron. Are you ready for this? It seems that the murder of the woman in the alley and the murder of Max's wife and child are connected. Wow. Talk about a major surprise! That's almost as surprising as when Max's partner (Donal Logue), the one who's discovered the connections in the murders, is himself murdered, and Max is the prime suspect. Now, Max, who is even more brooding than when this garbage started, has even more murders to solve, while clearing his name, and avoiding everyone who wants him either caught or dead. Among those hunting our hero are a cop (Ludacris) and the sister of the murdered girl (Mila Kunis), but, in what can only be described as one of the film's many "original twists," both of the people chasing after Max come to realize he might not actually be guilty of the crimes.
In theory there should be a moment in every movie where it captures you, and has you so engaged that you want to know what happens next. The longer it takes for this moment to happen--the moment that you actually are engaged to the point where you care about the story and the characters--the worse the movie is. Unfortunately, in the case of Max Payne, that moment comes well over an hour into the proceedings, which pretty much means that the movie is a wash, because for the first hour the inability to figure out what is really going on, balanced out with not caring about what's going on, equals out to a crappy movie that is bordering on painful to endure. To make matters worse, by the time the story starts to come together and the film has feebly become something akin to engaging, it is only engaging because it's laughably bad in its execution and predictability.
To say that there is nothing good about Max Payne would be a bit of an exaggeration. There are moments--most of them unintentionally funny--that provide some weird thing that could be described in some circles as "entertaining." But at the same time, it would not be an exaggeration to say that despite whatever moments work in Max Payne, intentionally or unintentionally, this is a movie that is simply not worth watching (even if someone brought the DVD over to your house, put it in the player and gave you a foot massage while watching it).
The failure of Max Payne, which, for those of you that don't know, is based on a video game, is monumental. Blame for this insipid piece of crap should rest squarely on the shoulders of screenwriter Beau Thorne and director John Moore. Between Thorne's abysmal script, Moore's all-style-no-substance direction, and Wahlberg's pathetic acting, Max Payne achieves a profound irony, derived from the fact that the title describes the experience of watching this garbage more effectively than any critic could ever convey.
Max Payne is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The disc I watched was a screener copy, and not the final product, so I can't comment on how the picture quality looks. The image on the screener was good (even though the movie sucked).
Max Payne is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital. The sound on the screener disc was good, but because this was not the final product, it is not possible to comment.
I'm going to be honest; I hated Max Payne. It was all I could do to get through the actual movie. There was no way I was about to check out the bonus features, which includes an audio commentary with the director, production designer and the visual effects supervisor. Seriously, I don't care what any of them have to say about this trash. I also didn't care enough to watch the featurettes. Both the theatrical version and an unrated version are on the disc. The unrated version runs three minutes longer than the theatrical version, which means you get 180 seconds of extra unwatchable shit.
I hated Max Payne. I mean I really hated Max Payne. I hated it with a vengeance usually reserved for romantic comedies starring Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Jason Biggs. Unless someone was holding a loved one hostage and threatening to kill them, I can think of no reason why I would ever watch this movie again. And unless someone is holding one of your loved ones and threatening to kill them, there is no reason for you to watch Max Payne either.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]