Starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and Beau Bridges. Rated 14A.
We feel Max’s pain, we really do.
If we were a tough, miserable cop bent on avenging the murders of loved ones, we’d want to pump a few dozen rounds into the guilty parties too. But there’s nothing like the sudden emergence of everybody and their drug-addicted Russian sister from a really seedy New York City underground to mess with a guy’s noggin. In that case, it’s say hello to my little automatic-weapon friend, ask questions later.
No one in the movie will give coherent answers—hey, it’s adapted from a video game—but just beware of tattoos of mysterious black wings and don’t drink the blueberry Kool-Aid. That stuff brings out the giant, flappy, fluttery, demon-angel creature thingies.
Max Payne certainly looks fantastical-noir, accompanied by its fire-and-brimstone metal-menacing soundtrack. Director John Moore turns his flick Chinese with the best use of falling snow since House of Flying Daggers’ climactic sword fight and by following Hong Kong action man John Woo’s credo of never firing a weapon once when 100 times will do. Some of these slow-mo-shooter moments, however, veer toward parody.
Striding through the hail of bullets looking for plot sanity is Mark Wahlberg, playing Max with a tense brow, a black-leather jacket, assorted artillery, and a death wish.
There’s a wacky-ass story line involving a drug company and a blue-liquid narcotic intended to turn soldiers into blissful killing machines. Hammy Beau Bridges as a cop turned security honcho and rapper-actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as an internal-affairs cop seem to pop up improbably anytime, anywhere. Chris O’Donnell is a nervous, blink-and-you’ll-miss-him pharmaceutical exec, while Mila Kunis, all trench coat and spiky heels, plays a Payne-sympathetic Slavic mini assassin.
And the big winged thingies? They’re played, with all flap and no bite, by special effects.