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Sunday, 2 November 2008

Max Payne

Getting the tone right for an action movie is a tricky thing. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, who got it right more often than most, fell into a serious pit of too-serious seriousness with most of his 90s output. And Max Payne - based on a video game series far more serious than the fun name would suggest - gets it wrong from the get-go. The story itself holds promise: Max (Mark Wahlberg) is a New York cop who's spent three years trying to find his wife's killer, which kinda suggests that he’s not that great a cop. Then suddenly he meets a sexy dame who strips off in his apartment than gets hacked to death after he kicks her out (because the pain of his wife’s death is so strong, not because he’s gay or anything), then his old partner gets hacked to death, then a lot more conspiracy uncovering takes place, and by the end everyone's on drugs and seeing weird stuff. Or something like that - this is one of those films that has too much plot for its own good, especially when everyone's come to see a bunch of cool shoot-outs and instead there's only a handful and they're so packed with cheezy bullet-time you can step outside, get some more popcorn, visit the toilet and come back in before Payne has finished racking his shotgun. As for the grey-scale colour palette and super-sombre tone (does it ever stop snowing?) designed to make us realise this these are serious events - uh, hello? The lead is called MAX PAYNE, not GRIM-FACED DARK AVENGER RACKED WITH SERIOUS EMOTIONAL PAYNE. Good dumb in an action movie is calling your lead Max Payne; bad dumb is what the rest of this film delivers.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #438)