What raises Max Payne above other videogame adaptations are its spectacular visuals and sumptuous set pieces. Although the new movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Atlanta’s own Ludacris is nothing Oscar-worthy, it is entertaining. Ludacris recently introduced Max Payne at the movie’s red carpet event in Atlanta, and he said that if you enjoyed movies such as Blade, you would have fun with Max Payne.
The movie follows Detective Max Payne (Wahlberg) three years after his wife and newborn child were murdered. Haunted by this unfortunate past, Payne has become obsessed with finding the man who disappeared, so much so that he has been reduced to filing old, unsolved cases.
Things change when Max meets a young woman at a party, who is found murdered the next day, during one of his ventures in search of the killer. Max is pinned as the prime suspect. As Max delves deeper into the case he encounters the murdered young woman’s sister, an assassin named Mona (Mila Kunis). Max also has several run-ins with internal affairs agent Jim Bravura (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges).
With each successive scene in the film, the plot becomes progressively more transparent. This lack of captivating sequences was amplified by poor acting by almost everyone involved. Wahlberg played Payne with far too little emotion, Kunis was a poor casting choice for the role of Mona and Chris O’Donnell (where has he been the past few years?) does little with a throwaway role. The only light at the end of this dark tunnel filled with boring actors was Ludacris, but his brief appearances on screen only left me (and the audience) wanting more of his character.
Despite these drawbacks in acting, the highly stylistic and brooding shots that pervade almost each and every scene of Max Payne add a wonderful neo-noir tone to an already bleak film. The director, John Moore, was also successful in translating much of the spirit and style of the videogame on screen.
Overall, Max Payne is a fairly successful, visually appealing adaptation of a thematically dark videogame. And yes, the ending leaves things open for a sequel.