Thursday, January 8, 2009

Max Payne ...or two fingers my friends

Max Payne holds the distinction of being the one and only video game-based feature film that manages to be dumber than the original. Ok, I'll confess - I'm one of the avid fan boys of the game who didn't like the movie, so that alone makes me a walking talking clichee hater, but hey, it's a fucking shooter video game (even a good shooter is still nothing more than a shooter), and yet some inept first-time wanna-be writer (how the fuck did he get the deal landed in the first place?) somehow managed to screw up a script that was supposed to be a milk run - after all, the makers of "Resident Evil" or "Doom" had far less to work with (you could fit the plot of "Doom" and "Doom 2" combined on the back of a matchbox) and delivered more. I know it's an adaptation and I wouldn't mind a change in the plot (the game tempo would be inappropriate in a movie anyway and repeating the game word by word would earn shitloads of bashing for being unoriginal and boring for everyone familiar with the game, I thought - little did I know), but the plot wasn't so much changed as downright crippled. Mindlessly, as it turned out, because for instance the whole Nicole Horne character was rendered unnecessary, yet she appeared for absolutely no reason and left a plot line unresolved (hmmm... I can smell a rat here, they probably intend to make a sequel - Max has unfinished business). The frivolous chopping of the script also made a key character out of Jack Lupino (mostly because all others except BB were left out - Punchinello and his trio, Vinnie Gognitti, Alfred Woden, the Finito brothers, Boris Dime, Rico Muerte, Vladimir, Frankie 'The bat' Niagara), while in the game he is not much more than a henchman (albeit an important one), and he took way too much of the spotlight compared to his importance (all the more disappointing he just got shot after so much tension building up around him).

The hallmarks of the game (and what made it stand out and compelling) are mostly retained, however in such an inconsistent way it's irritating. We only get a voiceover in the beginning - once, while there are plenty of silent scenes that could use it to emphasize the Noir feeling of the original. Sadly, all the references ('I did like Chow Yun Fat', 'The password is John Woo', the scene with the mobsters disarming the bomb, 'Rico Muerte was a regular Keizer Soze' and so on) must have fallen victim to the above mentioned so-called writer (and I wouldn't hold it against him if he had come up with some new ones - which he didn't). The typical Noir-esque overblown phrases ('The final gunshot was an exclamation mark', 'Outside, the city was a cruel monster') were also notably absent and that didn't improve the overall feeling. Bullet time - check, once, in the shotgun scene. Hello, anybody home? Max Payne is supposedly an action hero, a cop with amazing shooting skills - then why not make the motherfucker shoot someone in a spectacular way? Humour - I didn't notice any, correct me if I'm wrong (a good part of it was coming from Vladimir anyway - "I'm gonna make you an offeRRR you cannot RRRefuse - hahah, I always wanted to say that!", "CleaRRR as vodka!").

I must admit though, visually they nailed it - everything was top notch, from Lupino's tattoos down to the Aesir building, and even the CGI demons didn't irritate the shit out of me. The actors were cast pretty well (Marky Mark will get his usual bashing no matter what he does, but he did ok, considering how little he had to work with) and acted all right - even if they didn't, the bad script would overshadow that. Both the overall sound and the soundtrack were good (as much I liked the original piano theme, maybe it wouldn't fit), but that alone didn't compensate for the lack of plot and action.

In conclusion: it just falls short. Of anything, Doom the movie included. The moral? Get a real fucking writer and send this one to make a screenplay adaptation of Lode Runner. Or Pacman.
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