Review: Max Payne

The weekend was a very slow one, and I just had to take something on to rejuvenate myself. It was a Sunday afternoon, it was a hot afternoon, and the only place to cool off was the Mall (without getting any sunburn). And what is there to do at a Mall? Watch a movie of course. A quick glance at the cinema and ‘Max Payne’ was screaming for attention all over, hence ‘Max Payne’ it is. There’s been a massive exhilarative lull in movie-dom over the last few months (hence the lack of reviews) and ‘Max Payne’ was a perfect opportunity to change things. My expectations were not lofty, I just wanted something enjoyable, something fun even if its dumb, wanted a pop-corn movie. ‘Max Payne’ fits the bill perfectly…until the movie ended. Yes, you know what’s coming now don’t you? The film did not turn out the way I expected, and the final judgment on this latest action-flick was a Maximum Payne in the butt. Ouch.

I should have known what was coming. This film was adapted from an enormously popular game of the same name, debuted way back in 2001. The game was something fresh as it infused graphic novel storytelling and stylization with slow-mo-guns-blazing-bullets-flying-with-John-Woo-mimicry and had hints of ‘The Matrix’s finesse. I’m no gamer but when I played it, even I was impressed. Hence, a movie adaptation was inevitable. And hence, with all video-game adaptations, can I safely say now that a massive disappointment was inevitable too? Remember ‘Hitman’? Remember ‘Doom’? Remember ‘Street Fighter’? Sadly all these movies run on the same road to nowhere. And sadly these movies are still being offered to the public, inviting unsuspecting passengers with super-slick marketing from the movie-makers in return for a quick buck.

Should I even mention about the script? Even after striped bare of all matter that needs even an ounce of brain matter, the story feels payne-fully lurching and disconnected. The first hour goes nowhere very slowly, a tedious attempt by the director John Moore to introduce us the world where Max Payne dwells, to develop his character and to build our sympathy for him after his family was slaughtered. But it never pays off. With poor acting and directing, it actually made the Payne character more of a lazy sulking fella that deserves nothing more than a slap in the face as a wake-up call. We are introduced to the side characters, but again it’s a feeble attempt to inject some soul into the film and fails miserably as they all feel like empty carcasses primed for target-practice.

When the action finally kicks into gear, all the hard-work of character building goes out the window (so what’s the point of it then?) as characters we are supposed to care for turns to plain two-dimensional drawings and they just die during gunfights that erupts for no reason. Yes, there are a few scenes where the action was quite impressive, but there’s nothing we have not seen before that distincts itself from other bullet-ballets like ‘Wanted’ or ‘The Matrix’. Even the finale, which I had high-hopes for redemption, falls flat with illusions of grandeur. It was everything that is to be expected of such a film like this, and let’s just say we all know how it ends, don’t we?

In the end, it’s another movie that is made to please the fan-boys of the video-game and has absolutely nothing to win new fans over whatsoever. Watch it if you have nothing to look forward to, or watch it if you are a fan of the videogame. Besides these two reasons, do not watch it in anyway because you just know how this road leads too…

Verdict: 6 / 10

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

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