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  Max Payne Bullet Time
Year: 2008
Director: John Moore
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Chris O'Donnell, Donal Logue, Amaury Nolasco, Kate Burton, Olga Kurylenko, Rothaford Gray, Joel Gordon, Jamie Hector, Andrew Friedman, Marianthi Evans, Nelly Furtado, Jay Hunter
Genre: Action, Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: Recently the world of Detective Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) has fallen apart since his wife and baby were murdered in cold blood in his own home, and he has become obsessed with finding out who the killer or killers were. He spends most of his time in the records section of the police station, seeking clues, and against the odds he actually uncovers them. Tonight a lead takes him to a subway station, and he ventures into the men's room alone, knowing he will be followed by the three junkies who have noticed him - but how can this help?

That's a good question, especially when you're dealing with a main character who spends most of the first half hour of this doing not much but walk away from people who are trying to have a conversation with him, an annoying habit which might make it appear as if he's a man on the edge, has little time when so much is pressing on his mind, and so on, but after a while has evidently been included to prolong what turned out to be a childishly simple plot. It was based on a computer game of the same name, and as with ninety-nine percent of movies with such a derivation pleased neither the game's fans nor the casual movie fan.

Time and again the problem with such adaptations emerged: what is successful in a computer game does not necessarily transfer to the big screen with ease, mainly because watching films is more passive than playing games, and if you want to mix the two you end up with a work which falls between two stools. In this instance, no matter how many bullets Wahlberg fired in slow motion the fact remained this was deadly boring, with nobody to care about and the peril strictly by the numbers, making for a slog to get from one end of the story to the other. None of the cast were able to do much with their roles, such was the two-dimensional nature of the characters.

For a while this looks like it might be a horror movie in disguise, as strange, shadowy winged figures swoop down from the skies and make off with the supporting cast, including Olga Kurylenko who initially comes across as our leading lady until a Janet Leigh in Psycho moment has her done in within ten minutes of her first appearance, never to be seen again. That character's sister, Mona Sax (Mila Kunis) then shows up to find out what happened, and also to shoot people with a machine gun because it's that type of movie, warily teaming up with Max to look into the mystery drug which is at the heart of the conundrum: why are these victims dying, and who is behind it all?

The answer to that doesn't exactly blow your mind as the second we hear about a sinister pharmaceutical company we can put two and two together and figure out that it's their machinations which have kicked off the plot, and all those shots of junkies drinking the blue solution is their doing. But what of the identity of the murderer? Also blatantly obvious, alas, as he's too plainly the man who the script bends over backwards to present as too good to be true, so there goes any chance of suspense. Add to this weather which cannot make up its mind whether it's snowing or raining depending on the kind of mood director John Moore wished to go with, and a curious emphasis on destroying offices as if to appeal to those viewers who hate their jobs, and you had a forgettable, unattractive and downright dull effort which may have been professionally made, but steadfastly refused to spring to life. Music by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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