Ah, “Max Payne” – bless your little heart, you certainly do try to be something more than what you are, don’t ya? But where to really start with this mess…… Hmmm, OK, let’s start with the background:
“Max Payne” is the feature film adaptation of the 2001 very popular Video Game about a surly Detective named – well, named Max Payne (I will not use puns, I will not use puns, I will not use puns, I will not use puns) who unfortunately returned home one day to find Junkies in his house, and his wife & newborn child murdered at their hands – and a mysterious third party that escaped, who Max wasn’t able to see, but knows is out there somewhere.
He then changes his name to Frank Castle, puts on a big Skull T-Shirt and spends his nights hunting down Junkies under the new name of “The Punisher”, he th— What? Oh right – that last part aside, Fra— Max now whittles away his hours in the Cold Case department of his precinct, and by night hunts down Junkies in t– are we completely sure this isn’t “The Punisher”?
Either way, Max meets up with a fine young lady named Natasha (the quite fit Olga Kurylenko, soon to be seen as James Bond’s new bed-buddy in “Quantum of Solace”) one night, and with the purest of intentions, invites her back to his home for a nice cup of tea and some shortbread biscuits, commenting on how much he likes her fancy “Wings” tattoo, that seemingly has no relevance to her love of Paul, nor her tendencies to belt out “Band On The Run” in the shower.
After parting ways, Natasha starts seeing shadowy figures flying about her in the night, and then one thing leads to another – the “another” pat being her getting torn to pieces in an alleyway, but not before conveniently lying out Max’s wallet, where it is quickly discovered by Max’s old partner, Alex (Donal Logue).
Right – now as a quick aside, because I am already getting very bored of writing this synopsis, and it is around this time in the film that I started checking my watch, and wondering who had just gotten booted off of “Australian Idol” – can I just say that this film is absolutely chock-a-block full of some of the most useless “characters” that I have yet seen in a film – picture a Robert Altman film – a bunch of good to great actors, and then picture him using them for a minute or so each – alright he did that in “The Player”, but that was at least good. Picture that, but really stupid.
To make my way through the rest of this in a Rapido fashion (thank you “Dora The Explorer”, my Spanish is coming along nicely) – Max meets up with Natasha’s sister Mona (Mila Kunis), and his Dad’s old Partner B.B. (Beau Bridges – not just clever name casting) – oh, and an Internal Affairs agent named Jim Bravura (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) – oh, and Chris O’Donnell is in it…. and Nelly Furtado…. oh, and the guy from Prison Break – Amauray Nolasco…. and about 20 other people you’ll see very briefly.
Gah! Can’t do it anymore – look, here’s what I said to the boss last night in a text message, and I think it sums it up reasonably well – “Stylish, looks great, but unnecessarily overcrowded cast wise, and doesn’t move anywhere as quickly as it should, with the exception of the last 20 minutes”.
So if you would like to see quite a decent action movie, take my advice there – buy a ticket for “Max Payne”, hang out in the lobby of the cinema for around an hour, chat up a young lady (or a dude if you’re that way inclined), play the arcade games, I recommend revisiting “House Of The Dead” or maybe even “Pang” if they still have that about – have a Coke, some nibbles, and then walk into the cinema for some pretty stylish action for the finale – it is a very good looking film – pretty similar in style to something like “Constantine” – but if you do that, you’ll actually really enjoy “Max Payne” – if you stick around for the incredibly slow paced first hour though, you may find yourself having a few yawns though.
Casting wise – she would probably dread hearing this from much more respected critics then myself, but Mila Kunis is far too cute to be playing the “Mafioso” type that she is doing here, especially coming off of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, and although I typically really like MarK Wahlberg – this really could have been anyone of a dozen actors playing this part, but that being said – he’s 1000% better in this than the awful “The Happening”.
But OK, to wrap up – again “Payne” looks very pretty for what it is – there’s some very nice FX work throughout the course of it (the best parts of which have already been shown to death in the trailers), but it just doesn’t have that sense of forward momentum that a flick like this really needs – and ultimately becomes something that would have been straight to the video shelf if not for the presence of Wahlberg.