Max Payne
dir John Moore
scr Beau Thorne
with Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Chris O'Donnell, Donal Logue, Amaury Nolasco, Kate Burton, Olga Kurylenko, Rothaford Gray, Joel Gordon, Jamie Hector
release US 17.Oct.08, UK 14.Nov.08
08/US Fox 1h40
Max Payne
The big guns: Wahlberg and Kunis

sw sw sw
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Max Payne Loud and completely devoid of wit or interest, this empty-headed action movie looks terrific thanks to its big budget and heavily stylised visuals. But it's impossible to care about anything that happens.

Max Payne (Wahlberg) is an investigator haunted by the violent murder of his wife and child. And his latest case seems to be connected to the killings in some mysterious way. After he finds himself on the wrong side of the law, wanted for a murder he didn't commit, he teams up with feisty hit-woman Mona Sax (Kunis) and his old boss (Beau Bridges), but he can't start tracking down the bad guy until he figures out who it is. And all roads seem to lead to the mega-corporation Aesir.

It's hard to imagine a more cynical Hollywood product than this vacuous movie. Visually, the film steals liberally from the likes of Sin City (desaturated images with glaring spot colour) and The Matrix (constant barrage of gunfight in bullet time). In other words, it looks fantastic, and even achieves some beautiful imagery in the snow and rain. There's also an intriguing supernatural element to the story in the winged tattoos worn by members of a secret society of super-soldiers (they may also be angels or demons) addicted to a blue liquid.

But with all of the attention on style, the characters fall through the cracks, mainly because they are completely lacking in personality. The women have especially thankless roles, and none of the cast members manage to make anything more of their role, or emerge from the non-stop carnage as someone interesting (where's Jason Statham when we need him?). Meanwhile the violence and sex have clearly been neutered to get a PG-13 rating, which eliminates even the guilty pleasure possibilities.

The script is packed with Norse mythology and slinky Russian babes. But it's impossible to make any sense out of the plot. And without any irony at all, this will only appeal to fans of the videogame on which it's based. Everyone else will be worried about the state of their hearing after sitting through this noisy mess. And about the state of Wahlberg's career.

cert 15 themes, strong violence, language 21.Oct.08

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Max Payne Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall