***1/2 (out of 5)
October 17, 2008
Mark Wahlberg as MAX PAYNE
Mila Kunis as MONA SAX
Beau Bridges as BB HENSLEY
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as JIM BRAVURA
Chris O’Donnell as JASON COLVIN
Donal Logue as ALEX BALDER
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: John Moore
BY KEVIN CARR
Ever since video games exploded onto the popular culture scene, Hollywood has been trying to cash in on their success. For the most part, these video-game-to-film adaptations have been notably awful, especially with people like Uwe Boll making a couple each year. Even when they are decent (like “Mortal Kombat” and “Resident Evil”), they’re not awesome. Just okay.
Like comic books, video games have gotten a bum rap from Hollywood. In recent years, the entertainment industry has figured how to make a decent comic book movie. And while “Max Payne” hardly has the pristine quality of “The Dark Knight,” it’s a step in the right direction.
The story follows Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg), a New York cop who works in the cold case office. He uses his resources in the police department to track down the men who killed his family. However, as he gets closer to the truth, he finds himself drawn into a dangerous drug ring. To make things more dangerous, the drug in question has a mysterious quality that allows the users to see valkyries, spirit-like creatures that take souls of violent deaths to the afterlife.
I had never played the “Max Payne” video game, so I have no basis of comparison. Rather, I approached the film more as an action movie fan. Additionally, because of Hollywood’s reputation for video game adaptations, I wasn’t holding out much hope. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I got wrapped up in the film.
Much of the draw of “Max Payne” comes from Mark Wahlberg. The guy has a likable presence on screen, but he can still kick ass when he needs to. This role didn’t require the level of acting that Wahlberg has shown in other films (like “Boogie Nights” and “The Departed”), but he holds his own.
But it wasn’t just about the title character. A requirement for any good action film is some good looking women to fill out the screen. I know that by saying this, I’m in danger of being labeled a chauvinist, but I’m just pointing out what most guys look for in a film. And this is a guy’s film all the way. Why not spice it up with hot chicks?
Olga Kurylenko, whom you might remember as the best thing from “Hitman” (another lame video game adaptation) and soon to be huge from her role in the new James Bond film, sizzles on screen. Unfortunately, her character bites the dust in the first twenty minutes. Fortunately, you have “That 70s Show” hottie Mila Kunis to step in her shoes. Granted, Kunis is not very effective as a Russian mobster, but she looks good trying.
There’s a somewhat predictable plot that features secrets behind the drug company where Payne’s wife worked. At times, the explanation gets a little silly, but it serves only as a lead-in to a powerful and exciting shoot-out over the last 15 minutes of the movie. The action at the end makes any bumps in the road on the way there worth it.
Ultimately, “Max Payne” is your quintessential guy film in current release. It’s loaded with guns, hot ladies in various stages of undress and a sharp, stylized look that doesn’t try too hard to resemble “Sin City.” If you have any significant level of testosterone in your blood stream, you’ll find something to enjoy about it.