20th Century Fox
At the Showcase and Quality 16
1.5 out of 5 stars
In 1993, “Doom” was released for the PC. It was a monumental achievement. Years later, they made a movie based on the game, and it was an epic failure. Similarly, a few years ago, “Max Payne” was a must-have among shooter games. Now, “Max Payne” is a boring, uninspired movie with a title that not only describes the main character, but also the condition of your head after watching it.
Anyone that remembers playing video games in 2001 will undoubtedly recall “Max Payne.” Walking from room to room was such a heart-pounding, swear-inducing experience that any on-screen movements
in the shadows almost caused players to have a mini cardiac arrest.
In the game, Max’s “bullet time” abilities were visually stunning and fun to utilize. In the movie, these moments are just stuck in haphazardry. The movie could have been shorter (and probably better) if every time a gun was fired, a bullet didn’t take 10 minutes to hit its mark. That stunt is too old — like eight years too old — to impress anyone today.
The movie cannot possibly capture the feel of playing the video game. What does that leave viewers with? Ah yes, a very original plot. Max is a New York detective who finds his wife and baby murdered one day. He’s completely changed by this traumatic event. His cold, aloof demeanor alienates him from his colleagues, who in turn show their sympathy for him by spreading rumors of his involvement with some random murders in New York City. To top it all off, a military-designed drug gone wrong (surprise) turns one-percent of its users into fearless berserkers while rendering the other 99-percent into psychotic junkies who hallucinate about flying angels. Video game stuff, really.
The plot, weak as it is, also borders on absurdity. In one instance, a man procures a C-4 plastic bomb from his office. Highly dangerous explosives are common in the workplace, right?
The only positives about the movie are the visuals. The serene snowfall, while somewhat overdone, juxtaposes the deep shadows nicely. The overall darkness plays well into the movie’s morbid vibe, although a little more light here and there would have helped clarify some of the action scenes. The scenes with the flying angels are definitely some of the best moments in the movie, because they’re trippy in a good way.
Other than nostalgic kicks, “Max Payne” offers very little else. The plot isn’t engrossing enough and the action scenes have too much of a “been-there, done-that” feel. All the movie does is continue the tradition of failed transitions from video game to the big screen.