GENRE: Video game-based movie
THE PITCH: Brooding big-city detective Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) tracks his wife Michelle's unsolved murder to a scheme involving exotic mobsters, an ominous pharmaceutical company and strange winged things with glowy eyes. Meanwhile, Mila Kunis stands around trying to look like Angelina Jolie.
MONEY SHOTS: The visuals of Max crashing through and sinking beneath a frozen river. An unbroken slo-mo shot of Max rushing to stop a junkie from falling from a window, while outside we see one of those strange winged things pulling the junkie out of it. Near the end, Max's apocalyptic hallucinations include a roof blowing off to reveal a devastated city.
I-WANT-MY-MONEY-BACK SHOTS: Max does this slo-mo Matrix-style backflip/shotgun blast that takes so long, you could probably go to the bathroom and not miss anything. The plot hinges on an experimental drug that looks like a Blue Hawaiian in a vial.
BEST LINE: "Michelle was the one problem that was small enough to stop," announces the "surprise" bad guy, offering an unusually pathetic excuse for embracing the dark side.
WORST LINE: "What has Max Payne done except bring misery to everyone who ever cared about him?" says a grieving widow (played by Canadian singer Nelly Furtado).
OTHER CAMEOS: Donal Logue briefly tries to butch it up as Max's ex-partner. Jamie Hector, who played a young drug kingpin on "The Wire," plays another mob boss for one portentous scene before disappearing completely. Beau Bridges and Chris O'Donnell get meatier roles as employees at the evil company.
FASHION STATEMENT: Ill-fated hottie Natasha Sax (Olga Kurylenko) slithers out of her little scarlet party dress when she goes back to Max's place. Max wears his black leather jacket for every occasion. As an honest cop investigating Max's activities, Ludacris dons a trench coat and fedora like an old TV show detective.
EXTRAS: A brief scene at the end of the closing credits sets up a possible sequel. Coincidentally, the original video game has a follow-up called Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Max Payne feels like a second- or third-generation copy, being based on a video game that was heavily inspired by action movies and crime graphic novels. Director John Moore avoids hyperactive editing and sets the film noir mood well enough, but Max Payne shoots blanks when the big action scenes come around. Plus, the business involving the strange winged things with the glowy eyes totally fails to pay off.
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