By CAINE GARDNER
The one genre of film that filmmakers seem to still be struggling with is the game-to-movie adaptations. The industry is full of films that showed the greatest of potential, but always fall short of expectations. Max Payne is the latest in this long line of failures.
Based on the highly successful 2001 game of the same name, the story follows the lead character as he searches in vain for the murderers of his wife and child three years prior. Payne is a haunted soul who seems to doom most everything he touches and the film adaptation is one of those casualties.
After his loss, Payne (Mark Wahlberg) transfers from homicide to cold case in an attempt to locate the third and final person involved in his family's murder. Putting the pieces together, Payne discovers that his wife's death was the result of her involvement in the VALKYR project. VALKYR is a drug that made soldiers into super soldiers, but with devastating side effects such as hallucinations that resulted in the subject going insane. He also learns that it could be someone from the company that had his wife killed.
Payne has some amazing production design, with heavy shadows and light tricks, but it's not enough. Too often the film gets in its own way, resulting in a stumbling pace that leaves the viewer with a raised eyebrow.
As for as acting, there was little to offer. Wahlberg is a very gifted actor who definitely has what it takes, but in Payne he offers nothing. When there's a chance for him to get emotional, the audience can see a glimpse of what could have been, but those are few and far between
Mila Kunis (Mona Sax) and Beau Bridges (B.B. Hensley) are at two ends of the spectrum. Kunis offers a lifeless performance, where Bridges overacts his way throughout the picture. The question that nagged at me is "Who's at fault -- the director or the actor?' Looking at the collective, one would surmise that it comes from the top.
Wahlberg, Kunis and Bridges have all shown that they are very capable actors, but they were drowned in film that was saturated with digital effects. Director John Moore goes over the top and leaves the audience with a sense completely unsatisfied. It seems that all aspects of the film were sacrificed at the altar of the CGI gods.
Too often the viewer is yanked out of the story by inconsistent scenes where people simply disappear or a gun is fired of 30 times without a reload.
The DVD lacks any significant special features and boasts only one behind the scenes documentary. In that documentary, a jolly Moore cackles gleefully as he essentially antagonizing the audience and studio about the 'DVD consumer nonsense'. At another point, he attacks the 'pen-pushing accountants' that dictate the way films are made and what they need to accomplish at the box office -- a sentiment that I don't necessarily disagree with.
Final Cut: I found myself wondering while I watched the flick and actually had to give it a second viewing because nothing stuck out during the first viewing. The film is flat from start to finish and offers little to advancing the genre.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Beau Bridges, Mila Kunis
Director: John Moore
Writer: Beau Thorne (Screenplay), Sam Lake (Game)
* Picture: Part One
* Michelle Payne Graphic Novel