Sunday, February 1, 2009

Max Payne

I should have known better. I like Mark Wahlberg and I like comic book-like films. But the trailers for Max Payne seemed to lack something. Following my instincts would have been a good idea on this one. I found Max Payne to be a poorly thought out exercise in futility. The plot was predictable, the concept was weak and the action sequences often made no sense. In a nutshell, this film was a major disappointment. The pain was all mine.

Max Payne was not without some redeeming qualities. There were some decent special effects, some big action scenes and some interesting camera angles with the comic book flash effect being used at times. However, good qualities in a fatally flawed film don't amount to much in the greater scheme of things. It was a wasted effort.

Detective Max Payne (Wahlberg) lost his wife in an unsolved homicide three years ago. As a Police Officer, he could have been there to save her had he gotten home ten minutes earlier. Instead, he has been left alone to hunt down the one killer that got away. The wing tattoos on the two bad guys he killed are his only clue to solving the murder of his wife and child. He has been reassigned to the cold case desk because of his obsession with the case. Most of the officers in his circle do not like or trust him.

Payne spends his time off-duty hunting down people he believes are associated with his wife's murder. He is chasing the wrong shadows. The evil lurks closer than he realizes. Payne's wife was not murdered in a botched robbery gone bad as the official report is a massive government cover-up of a military program gone wrong. Payne expends his energy in a scorched earth campaign to uncover the truth. His efforts eventually lead him to the source of his pain.

There are major plots holes in Max Payne. The entire concept seems flawed from the start. We are to believe that a manufactured drug has created bad guys with an uncanny ability to survive. Yet the supernatural forces at work are weakly explained away through Norse mythology. Maybe understanding the video game might help the plot make sense, but the movie fails to tie together the two concepts in any credible manner. The plot attempts to give us twists, but you can see them coming well in advance. There were no surprises in this film...just big action. Action can only go so far to cover for bad writing. Sam Lake created the video game concept, which might make sense from a gamer standpoint. The adapted screenplay was written by Beau Thorne, apparently to capitalize on the popularity of the game. The characters were predictable and flat, the dialogue hackneyed and the themes confusing. I am surprised that anyone cut loose 35 million dollars to create this nonsense. But then again...this is what the movie-going public wants...or probably a specific target audience...likely teenagers...the film did well at the box office.

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