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Max Payne
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by brianorndorf

"John Moore must be stopped"
1 stars

85 minutes long, rated PG-13, released by Fox, directed by John Moore, and a screenplay based on a video game. That’s a recipe for disaster, and “Max Payne” is more than happy to fulfill its destiny as a noxious actioner devoid of humanity, elementary cinematic language, and thespian nuance. Once again the game world collides with the multiplex, and once again I question the point of taking an interactive experience and turning it into a conventional feature film, omitting the specificity that made the property viable in the first place.

Mourning his dead wife and baby, detective Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) has spent the last three years hunting the killers who tore apart his idyllic life. After a chance meeting with a Russian prostitute (Olga Kurylenko), a clue is left behind by her gruesome death, leading Max closer to an energy drug that produces hallucinogenic visions of demons, the possible motive behind the slaughter of his family. Finding little help from former colleagues (Beau Bridges) and police officers (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Max forms an alliance with assassin Mona Sax (Mila Kunis), and the two set out to uncover the mastermind behind a recent rash of murders, possibly leading to the solution of Payne’s case.

What John Moore brings to the artistic table is visual fetishism. After “Behind Enemy Lines,” “Flight of the Phoenix,” and “The Omen” remake, Moore has proven himself a meticulous screen stylist, preferring a glossy moment of violence over anything resembling a legitimate emotional reaction. A former commercial director, Moore hasn’t bothered to warm up his touch over the years, leaving “Payne” a soulless exercise in empty calorie filmmaking; the background lighting and set design continually take precedence over the actors and ultimately whatever story manages to survive the creative malnourishment.

Moore treats “Payne” as another polished cinematographic playing field, imagining a world where the snow never stops falling (a noticeable continuity nightmare), the locations are ripe with noirish lighting, and the streets are guarded by psychological demons of the night. Moore demonstrates outstanding control over his environments, but holds no fundamental storytelling instincts, spending all of his time perfecting the shots while an entire film leisurely strolls past him with almost nothing to do but stand around and look confused. Moore fumbles “Payne” immediately, excessively clowning around with hackneyed camera and post-production technology, leading to a full mummification of the picture from the surplus of strained gimmickry.

I’ve only played the “Payne” video game once, and while it satisfied my home console blood thirst temporarily, it certainly didn’t scream out for a feature-length film adaptation. Screenwriter Beau Thorne is hopelessly lost trying to dream up a furious, elongated road for Payne, instead falling back on the most eye-rolling scripting clichés to pass time between the action beats Moore works himself into a lather to cover. Corporate conspiracies? Deceptive friendships? Gorgeous 90-pound female professional killers? Surely there could be more to the “Payne” universe than scraps from the “CSI: Miami” reject pile. Thorne barely eeks out a coherent tale of revenge for our hero, forgoing valiant scripting imagination to serve up the same old double-crosses and seedy criminal underworlds.

It should come as no surprise that Moore is terrible with actors as well, ignoring their needs to feed his own plastic precision. The cast is a fairly strange assortment of faces, with Chris O’Donnell, Donal Logue, and Nelly Furtado completing a miscasting arc that includes Kunis, Ludacris, and ultimately Wahlberg. Doing his now infamous tough-guy stance, Wahlberg sleepwalks through “Payne,” effectively erasing the reputable work that actor has been putting forth recently. It’s tough to fault Wahlberg for his blank stare, since he’s competing with Moore and his slackjawed lust for pointless slow-motion, shattering glass, and sexualized bullet discharges.

Coming on the heels of last year’s woeful “Hitman” adaptation (oddly, also starring Kurylenko), “Max Payne” further dents the questionable concept of the big screen video game celebration. Here’s the ultimate question: would you rather play out the violent wrath of Max Payne or watch some lousy filmmakers turn the world into mounds of formulaic drivel?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17288&reviewer=404
originally posted: 10/17/08 12:32:33
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User Comments

2/16/16 oz1701 too much slo-mo - and that was just the acting! 1 stars
12/26/10 Lemon feeder Meh, not too bad I guess 3 stars
10/15/09 I liked it B+ for this one think 4 stars
9/20/09 Man Out 6 Bucks Like passing a tapeworm. Hot women exist only to feed maggots. 1 stars
8/27/09 mr.mike Tired retread dressed up like a video game. 2 stars
8/26/09 Justin You'll have a better time being kicked in the balls for 90 minutes than watching this. 1 stars
8/12/09 Shit movie Boring and predictable. special effects where good tho 2 stars
6/27/09 Smashinova Not what I wanted or was expecting. Avoid 1 stars
6/08/09 dikguzzla very cool got a bit borin at end though 4 stars
5/06/09 fuck this a disgrace, badly acted, slow pace and with a rap star in the lead. 2nd worst film of 2008 1 stars
5/01/09 Niall Pretty cool 4 stars
4/26/09 Gertrude Boring.But Marky Mark is easy on the eyes. 3 stars
3/20/09 mo shizim weak bar the blastin ending 3 stars
3/15/09 Yo MTV Raps power 2 da payne 4 stars
3/10/09 Maxpayne Ok just not as good as the game. Kunis is sexy and Wahlberg is good 4 stars
3/09/09 Deleriois dan Great. Rented it and expected very little but it was fairly cool,filled the 100 minutes wel 5 stars
3/06/09 gc Is hollywood ever going to figure out that video games should not become movies? AVOID IT 2 stars
2/20/09 Nazihater As an action movie it's just ok, as anything else it sort of sucks 3 stars
2/19/09 MKAY decent 5 stars
2/15/09 martz Really sweet thiller. Kurylenko is simply orgasmic to behold 5 stars
2/10/09 DK Beautiful looking with a good wahlberg performance. Supporting characters sort of sucked. 4 stars
2/09/09 mark dedasco pretty decent stuff 5 stars
2/08/09 Mark Samsung Second half is good, but the opening section is unjustly slow and pondorous. 3 stars
1/24/09 John leaper Nicely done stuff. 5 stars
1/23/09 action movie fan good stoyr but too arty too much snow-could have been great but was,nt 3 stars
1/19/09 Greg winnings A sublime mix of noir and individual paranoia. Very fine cinema nad artistically perfect 5 stars
1/16/09 Jon G not as bad as I thought -somewhat enjoyable 3 stars
1/10/09 filibuster fred Dis was da shizit!! Me en me m8 was well likin the action and hot babes. 5 stars
10/31/08 Abhishek Chakraborty OMFG What a peice of crap. they made a great game concept into shit. don'twaste your money 1 stars
10/31/08 tiffany pettey i thought that the silent hill moves paved the way with stupidity 2 stars
10/23/08 NoRefill 85 minutes? I thought it was 3 hours! Would have been better at 30 minutes. 2 stars
10/22/08 Erik Not as horrible as i thought it would be but still not very good. 3 stars
10/18/08 Brian Mckay Was what it needed to be. Only complaint, not enough action. They got the rest of it right. 4 stars
10/17/08 Horrendous movie What a cliche-ridden piece of crap. Boring and useless. 1 stars
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  17-Oct-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Jan-2009


  DVD: 20-Jan-2009

Directed by
  John Moore

Written by
  Beau Thorne

  Mark Wahlberg

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