Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is a detective left hardened by the unsolved murder of his wife and child three years ago. Hence, you won’t catch him smiling, not once throughout the movie, all 100 minutes of it. Like Payne, you probably won’t be smiling either. Max Payne is a dreary chronicle of his search for the murderer, based on the 2001 video game of the same name.
Along the way, he encounters a drug addict who is brutally killed not long after, and her sister, Mona Sax (played by Mila Kunis, armed with guns and eyeliner), who is bent on revenge. Payne finds a sidekick in her and they set out on a trail of clues to track down the man responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.
The film is shot noir style with a palette of grimy greys and flashes of violent red during fight scenes. This makes for an interesting visual treat every now and then but even style cannot save this movie from spiraling into total confusion. It appears to fall in the genre of an action movie, but there is minimal action and the few action scenes will not have you on the edge of your seat.
There is little character development or even interaction. This makes none of the characters memorable enough for you to care about as each enters and quickly leaves Payne’s life without making an impact.
The plot trundles along with barely any excitement and gives the impression the screenwriters were too lazy to come up with something original and decided to fall back on the done-to-death story line of drug trafficking and throw in a few CGI winged beasts. Granted, it is a valiant attempt at staying true to the video game but director John Moore seems to have compromised audience satisfaction in exchange.
At the end of the day, Max Payne falls flat in every way possible and by the time you make it to the final scene, you’ll be most dissatisfied at how much style it had for such little substance.