Max Payne John Moore

The phrase "based on the videogame" is the Hollywood equivalent of introducing oneself at a party by saying, "I'm a syphilitic leper." Max Payne doesn't break the poorly set mould of its adapted brethren, continuing the tradition of poor scripting, absurd action and wooden acting that gamers have come to expect when their digital heroes fight their way onto the silver screen. Director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix) doesn't have the obvious shortcomings of infamous videogame adaptation director Uwe Boll (Bloodrayne, Alone in the Dark) but without Boll's "so bad I can't look away" style there is little to distinguish Max Payne from any other mediocre action movie. The film's story is loosely based on the critically acclaimed videogame, with Max Payne's (Mark Whalberg) family having been killed years earlier by a group of junkies robbing his house. Payne's single-minded desire to find the man who killed his family has left him an outcast at the police department where he works and when he discovers a lead that involves the distribution of a strange new drug developed by his dead wife's employers, he will stop at nothing to learn the truth. Gamers are usually willing to cut videogame storylines some slack, as long as the actual game portion of the experience is fun. Game adaptations don't have the luxury of relying on entertaining game-play to fill narrative gaps but for some reason, moviemakers remain oblivious to this reality and attempt to supplant the in-game action with high octane action sequences. Max Payne is no different, using the game's famous "bullet time" effect to appease fans and pay homage to the original material. The disc is slight on extras, though as director John Moore rants during the "Picture" feature, "I was watching a DVD the other night and I watched that 'making of.' I'm so fucking over that. Who cares?" Ironically, "Picture," which documents the making of Max Payne, is one of the more interesting "making of" features I've seen in a long time, with candid and personal documentary-style interviews with cast and crew that are refreshingly devoid of the usual press tour polish usually seen in behind-the-scenes DVD documentaries. Also, avoid the Michelle Payne animated graphic novel feature; it's not at all enjoyable. If you were a fan of the Max Payne game, you are better off replaying it and avoiding the bland mediocrity of this movie. (Fox)