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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » October 22, 2008
The world of movies
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Max Payne
October 22, 2008 By Witold Żygulski   
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Expectations can hardly be high of a movie entirely based on a video game. Yet sometimes the makers of such films succeed in delivering something that, if not original, is at least bearable for those who are not die-hard fans of the video game. John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix) is, however, not one of those directors. There is nothing appealing about Max Payne, which fails in terms of plot, acting and special effects. The latter are vital in this genre. In this movie they are surprisingly poor.

Mark Wahlberg (Shooter, The Italian Job, Boogie Nights) plays the titular brave and unhappy police officer haunted by demons of the past and dwelling on the unsolved murder of his wife and little daughter. Wahlberg is best known for appearances in B and C action movies in which he is free to unleash his utter lack of charm. Two or three signature grimaces plus as many lofty sentences delivered in voice-over seem to be the sum of his acting craft, although it must be admitted that he does boast a chiseled physique. While Wahlberg was recently nominated for an Oscar for his role in Martin Scorsese's The Departed, those who say the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts was impressed by the copious amount of obscenities Sgt. Dignam hurled from the screen have a point.

As Max Payne, Wahlberg is his usual bland self again, not least because he hardly gets to swear in the movie.

The plot becomes painfully predictable after the first ten minutes or so. When a person with connections to a pharmaceuticals company gets murdered, movie buffs instantly know what will come next. The pharmaceutical industry, large corporations and their greedy bosses in particular, have frequently been the epitome of evil in movies from the past two decades, The Fugitive from 1993 and The Constant Gardener from 2005 being cases in point. This time, the plot involves a powerful drug which transforms some humans into hyper-durable combat machines and others into psychos who see winged demons everywhere. There is also a series of murders, mysterious tattoos, a Russian-speaking mob and corruption. Our hero is obviously indestructible and his adversaries are unable to shoot him dead even though they are standing just a few steps away. They even fail when they target him with a machine gun in a confined glassed office. The film is rife with plot holes and inconsistencies.

Aside from Wahlberg, the cast is an odd mix of wannabes and has-beens. The movie's villain turns out to be the almost forgotten Beau Bridges of The Fabulous Baker Boys fame, and one of the ominous corporation's employees is a painfully aged Chris O'Donnell (Batman Forever, Scent of a Woman). The two sisters in the movie are fresh imports from Ukraine-Mila Kunis (Boot Camp) and Olga Kurylenko, the latest Bond girl in the upcoming Quantum of Solace. Singer Nelly Furtado also landed an acting job in Max Payne, delivering a few sentences in a cameo as the widow of Payne's deceased partner.

The upside of the movie is that it only lasts an hour and a half. You will need much less than that to completely forget what the whole thing was about.
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