The winter of my discontent continues. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a movie review for one simple reason, everything for the last three months has been terrible. Nothing that I liked or disliked enough to write 400 words on. After being on a sugar high from this summer’s amazing crop of summer films, The X-Files brought everything to a screeching halt and the disappointments continue. This time it’s Mark Wahlberg in Max Payne. I’m a gamer, but don’t think I’ve ever played Max Payne. If I remember correctly the thing that made Max Payne fun was it’s John Woo sensibilities with Matrix style bullet time effects thrown in. When first announced, my initial reaction was, why? It isn’t like Payne is one of the most popular game franchises in the world. Like I said, I never played it.
As production progressed, I was getting interested. As a general rule I really like Wahlberg – even though he is a one note actor and never displays much emotional range. He has that "it" factor. The early trailers looked really good and highly stylized. I was thinking, yeah, I can go with this. Video Game movies don’t have the best track record in Hollywood, can’t think of a single one that was any good or even made money. Which is ironic because Video Games based on movies generally suck to. So maybe, we’re lucky Hollywood and the Video Game industry will reach a point when they realize they just shouldn’t cross pollinate.
This movie lost me within the first ten minutes, and I can’t tell you why. I really wanted to like this, but the relentless darkness and graininess of the environments just put a complete damper on everything. I normally complain that films like this should be dark, grimy and relentless, so I feel like a hypocrite when I say that’s why it doesn’t work. The cinematographer only had to worry about lighting one color palet – gray and silver with fake looking snow. It felt like this entire movie was made with the Unreal Engine. Even though director John Moore used mostly all practical SFX. This dark, grey, warehouse look annoys me in games, I certainly don’t want to see it on a big screen. In a theater where the sound system was so loud it was making my ears bleed (not literally – I think).
Between the dark look and loud ass sound system I was getting a headache real fast. So I thought maybe I could get sucked in if I paid attention to the plot. But there wasn’t one. I couldn’t tell you what the heck was going on in this movie if I tried. At least until the last half hour when things finally made sense. But the big plot twist was like, "Really? Are you kidding me? They couldn’t have come up with anything more original?" This movie takes itself way too seriously. All of the gun play was by the numbers and totally uninspired, I would have preferred it if the director just ripped off Woo or the Matrix.
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Originally posted 10.19.08