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USA 2008
Directed by
John Moore
100 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bruce Paterson
3 stars

Max Payne

Synopsis: Coming together to solve a series of murders in New York City are a DEA agent (Mark Wahlberg), whose family was slain as part of a conspiracy, and an assassin (Mila Kunis) out to avenge her sister's death.

Max Payne was a relatively stylish computer game with action heavily influenced by John Woo and the Wachowski brothers, and characterised by strong neo-noir themes. Its film reincarnation is a determined effort that brings the suggestively-named detective to the big screen in blaze of gun battles, mysterious winged beasts, and lovingly-realised meteorological effects. Whilst not up to the benchmark of more successfully-paced game-to-films efforts such as Resident Evil, it does go a long way to bringing the game to life

Where would neo-noir be without a femme fatale and cynical anti-hero detective? Max Payne certainly delivers these key elements. Mark Wahlberg is terrific in hard-bitten roles, and it’s not the first time he’s remade such a character (viz. Scorsese's The Departed). The strengths of these performances are that he is still perceptibly a humane man, a lover forced to be a fighter. The violence he perpetrates is softened by the presumption that, at least off-camera, he’s really a nice bloke. Mila Kunis is an effective dark avenger, fairly unrecognizable from more innocent roles in films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Future Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko, is a dependable presence, as is Beau Bridges. But the environments are really the leading performers, with rain and snow casting their atmospheric thrall over much of the film.

Like our taciturn hero, there’s not much to say here. The apocalyptic ambience of the film, typified by the physical manifestation of the Valkyries dragging the dead from the battlefield, is impressive. There just won’t be Oscars for acting or screenplay, the film at times suffering from the limitations of its source material, where exposition is often just a brief interlude between action scenes. In short, it could have done with more of the Norse, and less of the force.




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