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Max Payne (DVD)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis & Beau Bridges.

Rated: 15.

Story: Max Payne is a New York cop hunting the guy who murdered his wife and child. After some moody investigating, he discovers a link to the new narcotic, Valkyr. He goes on a gun-toting rampage of revenge. It snows a lot.

Comments: I have a strange affection for movies based on videogames. This isn't that unlikely, I suppose, given that I clearly enjoy both movies and games. The 'strange' part is that I keep being drawn to these tie-ins despite not a single one of them being that good. Hitman, Doom, the first Tomb Raider and Resident Evil 2 & 3 are all OK but nothing to get excited about. I only remember them because of the much better games they're based on. Worse, for every one of these mediocre efforts, there are a couple of real clunkers like Alone in the Dark. Being a follower of videogame movies is a bit like being a Norwich City fan - somewhere along the line you begin to wonder if it's really worth the effort...

Among the numerous mistakes made in converting games to films, one of the biggest is simply latching on to the wrong elements. The two things I can recall about the original Max Payne game are endless, grey, crumbling corridors and stylish, slow-motion gun play. The shooting was the whole point of the game while the drab, repetitive scenery was as much a technical limitation as an atmospheric device. It feels like every second game I've played since has had me creeping through warehouses, abandoned offices, derelict tenements and run-down hotels, thanks to a lack of imagination and a shortage of programming resources. That the film has almost no gun play for the first hour and instead concentrates on deserted streets and decrepit locations seems a bizarre choice. The feel is much more Condemned than Max Payne. By the time the action arrives, it's somewhat incongruous.

Throw in a wonky plot with an obvious twist, some dubious acting and a selection of side characters whose actions make no sense, and the result is hardly stellar. Oh, and there are strange hallucinations of Norse angels on a regular basis, seemingly for no other reason than to look cool.

Hey, never mind, maybe that Halo movie will get made one day and it will actually be good... In the meantime, watch Shoot 'Em Up instead of this.

Conclusion: Dark, bleak, predictable, slightly weird and occasionally a little tedious.

Explosions: A couple.
Snow: Loads.
Slow-motion shotgun moments: Surprisingly few.
Best bit: They didn't include the infuriating, flash-back platform sequence.

Rating: 2/5.


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