Based on the video game of the same name, Max Payne focuses on the titular character, a down-on-his-luck detective wrapped up in a drug conspiracy. Following the murder of his wife and child, Max attempts to find answers by following cold leads, hitting the streets, and wallowing in angst.
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The movie can be downloaded from iTunes in one of several language versions with subtitles. To start downloading, hit the big button below the review. If you like movies based on games, you should also check out Assassin’s Creed or Tomb Raider.
Max Payne Movie Review
The movie plays off the noir-style detective story with an interesting visual style, mixing black-and-white with color splashes. In style, it replicates Sin City, but it fails to tell a compelling crime story.
In a lot of ways, Max Payne delivers a story that is well-worn in the crime thriller genre. Max (Mark Wahlberg) has a grisly past, and while chasing answers concerning the death of his family, stumbles upon a deeper conspiracy.
Murders have been popping up around New York City, and as an NYPD detective, it’s Max’s job to investigate. His investigation hits every cliché in the book; rampant drug and alcohol abuse, tortured family backstory, all complete with a dreary narration.
Without a solid foundation, Max Payne quickly starts adding sub-plots, extra characters, and a dash of fantasy. As Max falls deeper into self-loathing, his descent into the drug conspiracy grows darker as well.
Not every story has to be original to be good, but Max Payne shows that sometimes a little originality is important. Beyond an arresting visual style (which both works and fails all the same), the story feels by-the-numbers and overplayed. Mark Wahlberg tries his best to perform as a pained cop, but his character comes off as scummy.
There are only a handful of characters that are likable, while gives the audience little reason to care. Without a compelling antagonist or a relatable hero, Max Payne can’t seem to find its stride. It struggles between sub-plot and main narrative, dragging our hero through one random action set piece after another.
If you turn off your brain and watch purely for the visuals, you can possibly forgive the narrative shortcomings. Mostly though, it’s just underwhelming.
Where Max Payne does succeed is in its visuals and brief homages to the video game. The Max Payne video game is well known for popularizing the use of slow motion in gaming, and the movie does a decent job emulating that.
During some interesting gunfights, the mix of cool visual style and fun camerawork can produce some truly exciting sequences. Occasionally, the action can feel very Matrix-like, but not always in a good way. Overall, the story is heavier on grisly cop drama than it is action, which makes it a bleak viewing experience.
For a stylized crime thriller about a depressed detective, Max Payne manages to stay afloat. As an adaptation of a video game, it struggles and falls flat. As a flat out action movie, it’s far too dark and self-indulgent. Instead of playing the script and characters so seriously, Max Payne would’ve greatly benefited from a bit of cheek and originality.
Although Mark Whalberg tries his best to create an interesting character, his performance disappoints. The same can be said for most of the supporting cast, including Mila Kunis as Russian mobster Mona Sax. Beyond its visual style, Max Payne doesn’t do anything new with the noir detective genre. It’s underwhelming, a bit silly in the wrong ways, and misses the mark in most areas.