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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Mark Wahlberg.
Directors
John Moore.
Screenwriters
Sam Lake
Shawn Ryan
Beau Thorne .
Running Time
99mins minutes

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Max Payne
News just in: Mediocre game spawns mediocre movie. More as we get it


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Plot
Max Payne (Wahlberg) is a cop on the edge, in the middle of a search for the killer of his wife and baby that takes him into a murky underworld of Russian assassins, betrayal and a conspiracy that may or may not involve strange, winged creatures...


Review
Max Payne

For Mark Wahlberg, 2008 has turned out to be a bit of a pisser.
First, there was the debacle of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, in which Wahlberg gave a performance so wooden it was as if The Departed never happened. Then he was on the wrong end of a skewering on Saturday Night Live. So, can Max Payne — an action thriller based on a popular video-game — save him from an annus horribilis? Well, the bad news is, no. Not really. The good news is that The Happening is still this year’s worst Mark Wahlberg film.

It’s probably not surprising that Max Payne isn’t awfully good. After all, Hollywood has so far failed entirely in its attempts to turn even genuinely great games — like Resident Evil or Tomb Raider — into passable movies, so we shouldn’t bat an eyelid when a mediocre game spawns a mediocre movie.

And oh, is this mediocre. Director John Moore’s previous two films — Flight Of The Phoenix and The Omen — were both remakes, but they contained more original ideas than Max Payne, which feels like a collision of The Matrix, Constantine and Dirty Harry, but with none of their charm, invention or style.

Moore does conjure up some nice images, particularly when it appears that the threat that Max is facing may be supernatural in origin — a vertiginous shot from a skyscraper early on, and an eerie vision of a burning sky filled with winged Valkyries — but ultimately the film is bogged down in an impenetrable murk. Seven this is not — in fact, with numerous scenes so battered by wind, rain and ominous shadows, it begins to border on parody.

But it’s the script that really proves the film’s downfall. This is the sort of movie in which an ostensible good guy saves Max from certain death, only to immediately betray him and then try to kill him. Rather than, say, just letting Max die in the first place, which would be much more convenient.

It doesn’t help matters, of course, that where Max should be a ready-made action icon, he is in fact a blithering idiot, who’s so inept at solving a very solvable mystery that he needs someone to explain the plot to him. Wahlberg is decent as Payne, growling the sparse dialogue like he means it, but there’s nothing under the surface. Nor does he do anything iconic — whereas Dirty Harry had his .44 Magnum speech, or Martin Riggs had his suicidal tendencies, Payne is an anti-hero who does nothing but mope for two-thirds of the movie, before breaking out the shotgun for the action climax.

Even then, though, there’s nothing exceptional about what Payne does, as he mows down row upon row of bad guys like an Arnie tribute band. The game’s USP was its use of post-Matrix bullet-time, but Moore, clearly anxious to avoid comparisons with the Wachowskis’ action great, instead stages his scenes in pristine ultra slo-mo, as if each set-piece were the winning goal in the World Cup Final. Apart from a nice and unexpected touch when Max finally faces off against the main villain, there’s nothing new here. And, thanks to the decision to go for a bloodless PG-13 rating in the States (a 15 over here), Max Payne ultimately packs precious little punch.


Verdict
This tired, neutered action thriller won’t cause you max pain, but you might wince every now and again.


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Max Payne
Empire Star Rating

Just awful

One of the worst films I've seen in a long, long time. Even worse is that the coda threatens a sequel... And please, Street Kings pissed all over this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Keldy at 10:28, 14 April 2010 | Report This Post


This 'action' thriller garners marks for originality

Thanks to its risky (at the time) writing, this otherwise disappointing detective thriller manages to become enjoyable and borderline passable. Be warned, though, as I came dangerously close to assigning this film the dismal two star rating. Acting is average at best and John Moore does not do much of a great job in creating a balance between his noir visuals and rather boring characters (a fault the writers are responsible for). I strongly advise to rent this for a rainy night in, preferably m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 18:01, 07 April 2010 | Report This Post


???????????.

Terrible, terrible, terrible. Anyone who ever played the brilliant game DO NOT watch this crap.....................Terrible. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulandnic14 at 17:43, 27 January 2010 | Report This Post


It's a good thing this guy gets paid to review movies

And not games, because Max Payne is a classic. As for the movie, I found the look inconsistent, Moore can't decide whether to drain of or drench the film in color. Not a lot of action, most of which looked rather clumsily put together aside from a couple of stunning shots. Terrible script and excellent score, not a performance in sight. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Flipao at 21:44, 20 November 2009 | Report This Post


PAYNE'FULLY DULL

Yuck! I waited this one out for DVD and was exposed to the 'Harder cut', which i take is the same movie with a buckets of CGI blood. Marky Mark is so bored you'd think he was dreaming of being a rapper again. Mila Kunis doesn't pull the bad-ass thing off and the CGI is very 1999. I'm not sure about video game movies in general but this one was surprisingly dull. 2007's HITMAN is far superior, and that's not saying too much. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mrlips at 21:36, 03 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Whaaaaa?!

Has the reviwer even played the Max Payne games? If so, mediocre is the last word you would think to describe them.   More importantly, the film. It trys too hard to be cool and original, missing both my miles. Dull, langourous action sequences strung together with badly acted and badly written dialouge. A tradgic waste of a truly great game, this adaptation goes through the action-move motions but fails to make any impact. A shame really. ... More

Posted by MathewRed at 21:53, 04 February 2009 | Report This Post


So-so

Watch the Unrated cut. The second half is better than a continuity-challenged first half where Max is beaten to a bloody pulp and then wakes up without a scratch in hospital. The action scenes are pretty decent and the demon FX are good but is let down by the script and a cliched ending. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 19:21, 03 February 2009 | Report This Post


RATINGS RIOT

It was better than I thought, but then again I thought it was gonna be a film that sat in the stodgy bog that usually is reserved for Uwe Boll 'features'. My initial reaction was bad because of the rating. A film with a plot revolved around drugs and based on a game which was hailed for it's fight-system? How could it be anything but an 18??? Instead it plays out like a wannabe noir film. Should've been handled like Sin City, sure people would've moaned at the similarities, but I bet a mars bar... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cahoopuk at 16:18, 24 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE:

I watched the "unrated” cut last night. For a movie based on a video game that's about a man shooting and killing lots and lots (and lots) of bad guys there isn't really that much shooting and killing going on. Here is a list of the scenes from the fist 60 minutes of Max Payne that involve shooting: - Max shoots a couple of toilet doors - Max shoots 2 guys in a flashback scene Great…not! Granted, the shootings get more frequent during the last 30 minutes but even then i... More

Posted by grucl at 08:33, 19 January 2009 | Report This Post


Loved the game, the film, however was a bag of shit. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stephenhickman2 at 15:25, 11 January 2009 | Report This Post


if street kings gets 3 stars THIS gets 3 stars

seriously, were being a little harsh here. It's no worse than tomb raider, we all know what happens when we go nuts with the OTT action. It wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination but it showed a little bit of guts in some areas. To be honest i think we should treat this like Iron Man and know that (if there is one) the sequel will be much better. I think there's still a HELL of a lot of potential in this one though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bizz90 at 00:45, 07 December 2008 | Report This Post


From the opening scene with the film noir-esque narration I thought this film was going to be pretty good and was looking forward to what was going to unfold. Having played the first Max Payne game about 5 years ago the first 10 minutes or so of the film were identical to the game and I was very excited. But then out of nowhere..... One demon and one train later the film goes off on a tangent of (un) epic proportions. The acting is so flat and the action is so dull that you feel that ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PureAinmhi at 12:18, 03 December 2008 | Report This Post


Entertaining enough

I thought this was enjoyable enough mostly bolstered by the fact I went in with low expectations and that I will watch the Wahlberg in pretty much anything. And look theres Chris O'Donnell! Did Frank Slade finally release him from his service? Hoo-Hah!   As for Max Payne, it looked good, there was a pretty decent action scene in the middle which they essentially just copied for the climax though that lessened its impact but overall I was never bored during it. ... More

Posted by MartinBlank76 at 08:45, 03 December 2008 | Report This Post


tedious

This was awful from start to finish. I only kept watching in the hope that someone would kill Payne and put us all out of our misery. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 23:57, 29 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: two stars? your kidding

One of the many joys of the game was the gentle ribbing of poorly scripted, hackneyed, noir-esque thrillers. Surely turning the game into a film results in a... poorly scripted, hackneyed, noir-esque thriller? Little point paying London prices to see this film when the game (and its sequel) are cheap and readily available. ... More

Posted by C M Newcombe at 13:26, 25 November 2008 | Report This Post


two stars? your kidding

for me there is a huge stride between 2 stars and 3 and i am truly pissed off at you guys for this review, the slow first half was made up for by the brilliant action sequences and walbergs great acting. the film captured the mood of the game and was visually BEAUTIFUL. although it was by no means excellent, i got what i came for; a solid action flick and that is why 3 stars is far more palable ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Shikea at 20:39, 23 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Whaaaaa?!

i dont' like watching mark wahlberg. he only has one facial expresion(like shia labouf)   his eyes are dead and cold.   his nose turns up at the end giving him that "brat" look about him.   oh yeah, and he can't act and he was that shit rapper, marky mark.     ... More

Posted by Geldart at 13:52, 23 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: You liked the game on its release...

L: NunianVonFuch Empire if the game was as mediocre as you say why did you give Max Payne 2:The Fall of Max Payne 4/5 when you reviewed it in Issue 176 Feb 2004 page 145? You go on to describe it as: "the sequel to 2001's ground-breaking, gun-totin' action adventure" "satisfying gunplay matched by an equally engaging story that unfolds like classic film noir" (link: www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?GID=38) oesn't sound like your reviewer David McComb thought it was ... More

Posted by grucl at 09:31, 21 November 2008 | Report This Post


You liked the game on its release...

Empire if the game was as mediocre as you say why did you give Max Payne 2:The Fall of Max Payne 4/5 when you reviewed it in Issue 176 Feb 2004 page 145? You go on to describe it as: "the sequel to 2001's ground-breaking, gun-totin' action adventure" "satisfying gunplay matched by an equally engaging story that unfolds like classic film noir" (link: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp? GID=38) Doesn't sound like your reviewer David McComb thought it was mediocre... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by NunianVonFuch at 02:26, 21 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Max Lame

Perfectly decent without being remarkable... decent cast, good effects, and plenty of action.... hardly amazing but passes the time with good muster   3/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DJ Rob C: Mark II! at 07:22, 20 November 2008 | Report This Post


Max Lame

what a waste of a perfectly good saturday evening. It wanted to be the matrix, wanted, sin city and, well, a good movie. I havent watched a movie in a long time where (for the duration of the film) I was very aware that I was in a cinema. It didnt grip me for one second. Well, apart from that hot Olga-bond-chick slinking about. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kev@CTU at 23:35, 16 November 2008 | Report This Post


Max Lame

what a waste of a perfectly good saturday evening. It wanted to be the matrix, wanted, sin city and, well, a good movie. I havent watched a movie in a long time where (for the duration of the film) I was very aware that I was in a cinema. It didnt grip me for one second. Well, apart from that hot Olga-bond-chick slinking about. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kev@CTU at 23:35, 16 November 2008 | Report This Post


Brilliant And Raw Action Movie.

I am a gamer and really enjoyed the Max Payne games that have come out, I couldn't wait to see the movie and now I have seen it, it's pretty damn cool. Most of the games-turned-movies are okay like the two Tomb Raiders and Resident Evil but the real disappointment was Hitman (two hot men in one movie? How could it go wrong?!) So when Mark Walhberg was to be Max Payne, I was hoping and praying that he will do a good job. And he does. He's perfect as Payne, he even looks like him and does a excell... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 16:10, 15 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Payne

This film's only redeeming feature is that you nearly see Olga Kurylenko in the buff, which you could probably find in about 10 minutes on the internet. Life is too short for this crap. ps: If this is a 2 star film and Taken a 1 star, then I'm a monkey's uncle. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rupert303 at 12:00, 15 November 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Another one bites the dust.

L: ascannerdarker I bet they didn't bank on this kind of response! Barely a word said about the movie, all comments are HATEFUL toward the comment about the game :) I love it. Kicked a wasps nest there didn't you Empire. Angry geek's will rip your head off quicker than a rabid manbearpig. Make a comment on how sorry you are and appease the snarling masses. It was utterly wrong and flippant and somewhat offensive. Was Casablanca a mediocre film? The Big sleep? t h... More

Posted by Deviation at 11:56, 15 November 2008 | Report This Post


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