Short version: Max Payne starts out promising but eventually begins to unravel, only to end in an awful mess.

Screen Rant reviews Max Payne

Mark Wahlberg plays Max Payne, a cop who’s wife and child were murdered and who subsequently becomes an obsessed outcast in the police department. Eventually he teams up with Mona Sax (played by Mila Kunis) in a quest to track down the killer.

Caveat: I know nothing about the video game. Not only have I never played it, I’ve never seen so much as a screen grab from it. So, I can’t speak to the authenticity of the movie in regards to the character and/or plot line of the game.

The movie opens with what we’ve seen in the trailer: Max floating underwater, apparently unconscious. We are then kicked back to “One Week Earlier,” indicated in the current fad of making on-screen text look like it’s part of the actual scene. We soon meet Max, a somber and unsociable guy who has been downgraded to the Cold Case department at the local police precinct.

His wife and child were murdered three years ago and he’s been on an off-duty quest to find one of the killers. Soon we get a taste of his search as he gives three drug addicts in the subway an invitation to mug him, and in a pretty damned cool scene he puts them down very easily.

Soon thereafter at a party thrown by one of Payne’s snitches he meets Natasha, a super-sexy hottie played by Olga Kurylenko. I’ll give you one guess as to her nationality based on that tricky name. Her sister Mona appears at the party and there is some conflict between them that is not clear.

In the meantime there is an addictive drug that is taken orally which seems will be a focal point of the movie. At first it is quite confusing why anyone would even take this drug because it causes terrifying hallucinations in the form of winged creatures.

One thing leads to another and Max ends up teaming up with Mona and the trail leads them to a mysterious bald, shirtless guy who carries a VERY big knife and knows how to use it (much to the chagrin of his victims).

One of the only people on Max’s side is B.B. Hensley (played by Beau Bridges), an ex-cop now head of security at the same pharmaceutical company that Max’s wife worked for.

So what’s good… I’d say in the first third of the movie, everything was pretty good. Wahlberg, while not great, certainly redeems himself from his performance in The Happening. Then again, how hard can it be to play somber and morose. Beau Bridges – just love the guy no matter what he does. He just has a great way about him that’s a pleasure to watch. Olga Kurylenko, well… let’s just say she’s really easy on the eyes.

The story and action are pretty solid at the start of the film as well.

So what’s not so good… well, as the film moves on it gets pretty ridiculous, and for some reason even the action scenes suffer. Director John Moore makes use of slow motion in a couple of scenes, and in one particular scene it’s not just slo-mo – it’s super-excruciatingly-painful slo-mo. I mean seriously, I might have had time to take a bathroom break and still return in time to see the scene (which in real-time would have taken two seconds) end.

The film gets more bizarre as it goes on (which for all I know is how the game progresses) and gets harder to believe. By the end with visions of fiery skies, circling winged-demons and lame dialog (among other things), I was ready to get the heck out of the theater.

I gave it 2 1/2 stars only because of the early part of the movie, and that overall it does look cool – but that doesn’t make up for the rest.

Keep in mind that Max Payne is barely PG-13, with sexual imagery and tons of pretty nasty violence missing only the blood which would have made it R.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)