Max Payne

The Movie Critic Next Door™: Watching the Bad Movies so You Don't Have To.

And yes, this one was really bad. Not that I expect much from a movie based on a video game, but even with low expectations it was still a disappointment. In a video game, it's probably very useful to be able to identify the main villain at first glance, but in a film it's just boring. When you know who the villains are, but the hero doesn't (and should), then it gets both boring and frustrating. You can see where I'm going with this.

The previews looked pretty cool, at least as far as visual effects, but unfortunately, that's about all of the visual effects, so if you've seen the trailer, you've pretty much seen everything there is to offer here. There's certainly no plot to hold your attention -- Max (Mark Wahlberg, displaying his usual range of emotions, annoyed and confused) is a cop in cold case, filing things, mourning the loss of his wife and child. They say the child was killed, but there's absolutely no visual evidence of that. In fact, there's almost no blood, which was kind of a shocker. I was expecting a lot. But it's still a video game in that you're either barely bruised or completely dead, especially if you're a hero.

Anyway, he got two of the killers but missed a third, and he's been hunting the guy ever since, but every lead goes to a dead end. Sometimes literally, because people do die a lot, they just don't show much. Then, about a third of the way through the movie, he gets a glimmer of an idea that he should've noticed years ago, and the hunt takes a new turn. Actually, I think he figures it out then, but later he seems surprised to notice that again, so I'm not absolutely sure.

He joins forces with Mona (Mila Kunis, "That 70's Show"), the sister of one of the recently dead -- the dead sister was just a party girl, I think, but the other sister speaks softly and carries a big gun. A REALLY big gun. She implies she's an assassin, but I'm not sure about that, either. The five-inch heels make it a tad doubtful, and the fact that she couldn't hide that gun unless she was wearing a full nun's habit makes it even less likely. None of the women wear much, of course -- there's an unintentionally funny bit where Max tries to get an informant to talk by threatening to search all of the guests at the party he's hosting. It's funny because 90% of the guests are female, and 100% are wearing just barely enough to keep them PG, so I'm not sure why he expects a search to find much.

There's a strange street drug (it's called Valkyr, looks like Windex, and makes everyone who uses it hallucinate the same bizarre things); an evil corporation (one room has a giant eyeball on the wall watching all the workers); and lots of cops blaming everything that goes wrong on Our Hero. And there's those scary looking winged things from the previews, but they weren't quite as cool as I'd hoped. When it isn't snowing, it's raining, and sometimes it even rains inside. The sun only shines in flashback, because those were the good old days. For atmosphere, several of the bad guys like to burn lots and lots of candles, but because they're bad guys, they often recklessly leave them unattended. I suppose since it rains indoors so much that's really not as hazardous as it sounds, though.

I'd better stop there. All you really need to know is that this movie gets one and a quarter idols. I might have been willing to stretch it to one and a half, but then they went and added a teaser about a sequel, and I just can't have that. I'm making a stand against bad movies based on questionable source material! And thankfully, I didn't even support this one with my dollars -- I had a free pass.

Originally posted 10/2008. I am saddened but not surprised that Mark Wahlberg is still somehow managing to get roles in good movies.

Image: 
Real version and video game version. Mark Wahlberg is the one on the left.

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