Fox // 2008 // 103 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 20th, 2009
He's a maverick cop! Hell-bent on revenge!
In the mood for a moronic big-screen treatment of a video game no one cares about any more and can't track down Mortal Kombat: Annihilation? Here you go!
Poor Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg, The Happening). Even though he's got a kick-ass name, his life sucks. His family was murdered by a pack of scumbags, and ever since he's sequestered himself into the bowels of the cold case department, walking around all mopey and stuff. His rogue investigation, to reveal the identity of the ringleader, takes him straight into a conspiracy that is both sinister and very sinister.
Awful movie. Awful, awful, awful. Now I played this game for little bit, way back when, so I'm not terribly intimate with the story details.I do recall the much-hyped bullet-time effects, where you could slow time down to better ventilate the opposing AI. It was a fun little gameplay gimmick and I can verify to any Payne-fans reading, yes there is bullet-time in this feature film.
Or, as I like to call it, "slow motion."
Speaking of which, that's a suitable description for the entire movie. For something based on a video game built on non-stop shooting and killing, Max Payne is shockingly boring. Not boring in the low attention-span kind of way, where methodical, but interesting character development is mistaken for tedium. Nope, the action void is filled with aggressively uninteresting characters trying to get to the bottom of an aggressively uninteresting conspiracy, through lots of talking and frowning. The first action scene doesn't even hit until an hour in, and after that -- an okay shootout -- there's only one more big set-piece: the final showdown where Max takes on a bunch of guys with a shotgun. There are some cool moments in that last one, but not nearly enough to compensate for the torturous trek to get us there.
If you do feel compelled to flush 100 minutes of your life (or 103 minutes if you choose to go the Unrated route), you can take solace in the fact that this high-def treatment is a winner. The 2.35:1 widescreen transfer is fantastic. As dumb as the movie is, it features plenty of visually striking moments which come alive in Blu-ray. Sporting a CGI-splashed look (not unlike Sin City), Max Payne is custom-made for high-def. The detailing is crystal-clear, the blacks are thick, and the colors vibrant. You will not be disappointed by this impressive presentation.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is active and the rare time anything happens in this movie, the mix pushes it well. Bullets ricochet from speaker to speaker and the soundtrack works the LFE hard. It's a clean, dynamic audio experience.
For extras, Fox has taken advantage of the Blu-ray capabilities. A picture-in-picture option runs through the theatrical cut, displaying interviews and on-set footage in a tiny pop up screen. Director John Moore and production designer Daniel Dorrance and visual effects supervisor Everett Burrell deliver an audio commentary. There's also a well done hour-long making-of featurette (that's probably even more than die-hard fans of the mythology want); a fifteen-minute virtual graphic novel; and a digital copy of the film.
The movie blows, but the Blu-ray presentation is a bulls-eye.
(In bullet time)
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Theatrical Cut
* Graphic Novel
* Digital Copy