Friday, October 17, 2008
REVIEW: Max Payne...
Video game movies suck. This is just basic math. Video game + Movie = Suck. From Super Mario Brothers to the horrible Hitman, videogame movies are not good, with one exception, that being Silent Hill. Now, this weekend sees the release of the adaptation of one of my favorite video games ever, Max Payne. With all of that history aside, does this noir starring Mark Whalberg buck the trend?
Max Payne is a story that is loosely based on the hit Rockstar videogame, about a troubled cop, Max Payne. Max, a DEA agent, is still trying to get over, and solve the brutal killings of his wife and kid. When a mysterious Russian woman, Natasha, is murdered, Max becomes the center of a homicide case. However, when Russian Assassin Mona Sax, Natasha's sister, attempts to avenge her sisters death, the two unravel a conspiracy involving a large pharmaceutical conglomerate. As his obsession takes hold, he delves deeper into this world of betrayal. Mila Kunis, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Beau Bridges costar in this highly stylized cop film.
This is the new film from Omen director John Moore, and stars Mark Whalberg as the man himself. The biggest thing this film has going for itself is the visual style. This film is excessively stylized, in a way similar to that of this years release, Wanted. It's hyper film noir, and it was a whole lot of fun. It has the video game's infamous bullet time footage, along with some of the most interesting visual flares I've seen in a while. It reminded me a lot of a color Sin City. Like most film noir, the film is chock full of conflicted characters, and a strive for some sort of redemption and for most of the film, this story worked. Also, the main villain in this film is not a single person, but a drug, Valkyr, that makes drugs today look like pop rocks. It causes 99% of it's users have horrible hallucinations that ultimately lead to their deaths, and that 1%, well, the government wanted to build an army of them. This drug doesn't only play a part in the story, but the viewer gets to witness these hallucinations, and these visual spikes, are very interesting to watch
Along with the style of this film, the cast does a pretty solid job. I was a little skeptical about Mark Whalberg, at least after seeing him in The Happening, yet he proved to be pretty solid in this rather hollow role. Mila Kunis is really the surprise of the film, at least for me. She did a very solid job as Mila Kunis, and Beau Bridges as the conveniently named, BB, stole almost every scene he was in. Ludacris was solid, even in his very small role, and even Donal Louge is stellar in a little role as Max's former partner. This flick does somewhat buck the trend, yet there are a few blatant flaws.
The films biggest flaw happens to be it's biggest positive. While the style of the film is really interesting to watch, for the most part is just sort of bland and gets very repetitive. It's similar to the way I feel about the hit film, 300. While the visual flares are gorgeous and really captivating, after a little while, it just got boring. The film starts off in a really interesting way. We are introduced to Natasha at a party held by a snitch used by Max, and after her murder, the story goes off into an interesting story of double crossing and deceit, yet, as the film comes to a close, it ends in unravels into a rather basic action film, allowing Max to go from room to room playing an emo Rambo. Rambo had he grown up today and listened to Hawthorne Heights. This end really left a sort of sour taste in my mouth, for a film that really surprised me for the first two acts. Also, while the performances are fine, there's not much meat behind the secondary characters, particularly Mona Sax, which is something I would have liked to have seen. Sure, there looks to be an inevitable sequel (you'll see what I mean if you stay until after the credits), but I would like to have seen a little more back story about a few of the characters. That all said, this film, for about two thirds, really surprised me and made for one of the most fun experiences I've had at the theatres in this slow time. It's better than it's other action companion Eagle Eye, so, if you want something to get your adrenaline going, give this a shot, when it hits your local video store.
MAX PAYNE: 6/10
A solid film that dissolves into less than stellar action cliche. Surrounded by gorgeous, if repetitive visuals, the film follows an interesting story of deceit that, for at least two thirds of the film, is pretty fun. It falls into the realm of a basic action film for the third act, so it gets a two thirds score.
I'm going to have a pretty interesting weekend, and I may get out to check out W and Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist, so expect a review or two this weekend.
Go see something good!
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