Take the basic Punisher plot [cop’s family killed by bad guys], add some designs by Constantine and top with a superficial gloss of Norse mythology, and you get the videogame-based Max Payne. Max Payne [Mark Wahlberg] is the cop whose wife and son are murdered; Alex Balder/Baldur [Donal Logue] is his ex-partner who discovers a link between the deaths of Payne’s family and the death of Natasha Sax [Olga Kurylenko], sister of assassin, Mona Sax [Mila Kunis].
Then there’s the blue fluid that is a failed super-soldier formula [so very Captain America] and the hallucinations it induces of Valkyries [the warrior women who bear Vikings who died in battle to Valhalla. The question is this: if everyone who uses this stuff sees the same hallucination, is it a hallucination or a glimpse into a supernatural realm – a question that is never answered [and could have made the movie something much better]. That fluid leads to the mighty Aesir [residents of Asgard – home of the Norse gods] Pharmaceutials. The company’s head of security [Beau Bridges] is Max’s dad’s former partner on the police force.
There’s more of this kind of thing throughout Max Payne – like the big blowout that occurs in a club called Ragnarok [the Norse end of the world myth]. Of course it’s a red herring. What else could it be? The biggest twist possible would have been if the club actually was where the movie ended.
Max Payne is beautifully shot, well-paced and so technically accomplished, overall, that it’s a shame it never attains any actual style. Most of the action choreography is an homage to John Woo [or blatant theft – you decide]. All it needs is a few doves…
Max Payne is a waste of some very talented actors – and of an hour and forty minutes in the life of anyone who sees it.
Final Grade: D