Ugh. You know, not everything has to be adapted into a movie. Someone should tell Hollywood about this fun fact. I love Monopoly (C.R.E.A.M.), but I’m more than happy to leave it as a funtimes party game for the whole family, and keep Gordon Gecko as Uncle Monopoly out of it. Was it always like this? Someone call their grandpa and find out if it was always like this. I’m willing to believe that it was always like this, but Barack Obama is president now, so it’s time for us to move forward as a people. We are mature enough as a nation and a culture that we should be able to say “Hey, how about we don’t make Diet Pepsi: The Movie.” Obviously, I understand why someone got confused and thought Max Payne was a good idea for a movie. We’ve all been up at three in the morning playing our Playstation 2 with Cheetoes-stained fingers thinking “This would be great if I could just lay here and didn’t have to move my fingers so much.” America is #1. Then again we’ve also all been up at three in the morning playing our Playstation 2 with Cheetoes-stained fingers and thinking, “They should make a movie about how great your bare feet feel when you rub them into the carpet, starring Zoe Saldana without any clothes” (all of us have thought this, without exception) and Hollywood is smart enough to know that they don’t need to spend millions of dollars turning that into a huge disappointment, so they’re not ALL dumb.
Anyway, Max Payne was a very bad movie. Let us talk about why.
Max Payne is about a cop played by Mark Wahlberg who is very sad because his wife and baby were murdered. Understandable! He now works in the cold cases division of the New York Police Department, chasing down leads to solve the mystery of whodunnit…tohiswifeandbaby. One night he meets a beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko) who he thinks might have some answers that he is looking for, and she tries to fuck him but he won’t fuck her because of sadness because in case you were not clear yet: he is sad. And angry. But the next morning her body turns up killed and also shredded into bits in an alley, and Max Payne’s wallet is there because she stole his wallet? Because he wouldn’t fuck her? Short con. Anyway, Max Payne’s old partner who he hates now because he still doesn’t know who killed his wife and baby and that is his partner’s fault, is like “Dude, your wallet was with this beautiful woman’s dead body and that’s not cool but so you should tell me what’s up” and Max Payne is like “I hate you still because somehow that supposedly helps the story along.” That night, the partner discovers that the beautiful dead woman’s arm had the same tattoo of angel wings as the dead body of one of Max Payne’s wife and daughter’s killers. He goes to Max’s apartment to tell him this, but gets killed, and when Max shows up he gets beat up. His father’s old friend from the police department is there to help him with his grieving. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Eventually it turns out that there is some connection between the dead lady and also his wife’s killer to the pharmaceutical company where Max Payne’s wife used to work, and also where his father’s old friend (wait for it) is head of security. The company was testing a military-grade drug that was supposed to turn soldiers into super-soldiers, but instead it just makes people go crazy, and also is highly addictive. Then the father’s old friend turns out to be the bad guy (there it is). Classic. He killed Max Payne’s wife and baby because she knew that he was secretly selling the dangerous drug on the streets, and I guess the baby also knew? The baby was a rat! So then he tries to kill Max Payne but not before telling him everything, because again: classic. But Max Payne escapes and jumps into the frozen river! And instead of waiting the literally 30 seconds it would take to wait and make sure Max Payne was dead, the bad guy just walks away. So Max Payne gets out of the water and takes the drug and now he is a super soldier and, overlong fighting sequence later, he kills the bad guy. The end.
It’s like The Fugitive meets Sin City meets Constantine meets garbage.
The movie, of course, was based on the videogame of the same name, and basically the same plot. Max Payne, wife and baby, friend betrays him, drug running, barf. The videogame was structured like a comic book, so the whole thing is just a messy pastiche of visual narratives. If modern comic books take most of their cues from movies, and a videogame takes most of its cues from those comic books, and then that videogame is translated back into a movie, you’re talking about a real babelfish.yahoo.com of an experience.
What’s weird about this movie is that Max Payne the videogame was clearly trying to crib off of the film noir, hard-boiled detective genre. It was dark and sinister and violent. But it wasn’t supernatural. Max Payne the movie has all these angels and demons in it, which are supposed to be the mental manifestations of taking the drugs, but for half the movie it’s like “Wait, there’s monsters in this?” Who are these monsters? And let’s talk about this drug for a second: it drives people insane, and it is highly addictive? But if you’re a cop it makes you invincible? It is complete nonsense. Drugs are highly addictive because they trigger dopamine receptors in your brain, not because they just are. There is a cognitive “pleasure” attached to their use. If the drug just makes you instantly insane and terrified of demon angels, then you would not feel the need to score another hit of it. Also, when women take the drug, at least based on the beginning of the movie, the only effect is that it makes them look really hot? Super Soldiers in the BONER WAR. Sorry. But also this movie makes no sense.
I guess the movie looks kind of cool sometimes. Like, this is kind of cool:
But it’s hard for movies to be very surprising anymore. We’ve reached a visual plateau ever since everything had to basically be The Matrix. And it doesn’t really matter if your movie looks kind of cool if that’s just masking the fact that it’s terrible and makes no sense. Stupid assholes can wear cool clothes too, metaphorically speaking.
Admittedly, I did like how this movie dribbled out the clues like a tightly wrought detective novel, just nothing but teasing out the clues very carefully so that they were always surprising. Like, my mind was just blown when Max Payne went into a storage unit and found a cardboard box full of his wife’s old work folders, and realized that the company’s logo was an angel wing, just like the tattoos on the bad guys, just like the hallucinatory angel-demons everyone’s tripping on. I NEVER WOULD HAVE MADE THAT CONNECTION HALF AN HOUR AGO THE FIRST TIME THEY SHOWED THE COMPANY’S LOGO, AND ALSO THAT COMPANY IS BASICALLY A GENIUS AT MARKETING THEIR SECRET ILLEGAL DRUG?
That entire paragraph was SARCASTIC. I did not love how the movie did that. It was terrible.
Of course, there were a couple of good cameos. Like Marlo from The Wire:
And Katelynn from the Real World: Brooklyn:
Oh wait, what did I say? Good cameos? I meant cameos. But Marlo’s name is his motherfucking name, and even Godz have to put food on their families. And that wasn’t Katelynn. That was a joke.
Now, obviously, I don’t expect a lot of emotional depth from a movie based on a videogame, but you’re seriously going to have to do better than this:
Right. “Baby.” Got it. Boo hoo.
The thing is, videogames can be really fun to play, but they’re almost painfully unfun to watch other people play. It is one of life’s most boring activities. But at least in that situation someone is having fun. When everyone is forced to sit and watch while NO ONE plays, it is unbearable. I wish there was a cheat code to get unlimited not having seen this. Left-right-left-right-up-down-a-b-a-b-ugh.
Next week: Reign Over Me. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.
*I just wanted to point out that I wrote this entire review without referring to the movie as “Payneful.” You’re welcome.