Max Payne (3/10)

Whatever happened to good old Marky Mark? Where’s the fantastic actor that we all know we say in “Boogie Nights” and who unleashed his near-full potential in “The Departed?” After this year’s bomb “The Happening,” he’s continued his mediocre movie streak with the over-stylized “Max Payne,” a film which defies analysis by taking itself so seriously it doesn’t even pay attention to the plotholes and half a dozen pointless threads, soldiering on to a bewildering conclusion whose self-important morality lessons are matched only in ridiculousness by the question that will haunt most viewers’ minds as they exit the theatre: “Why?”

Mark Wahlberg plays Detective Max Payne, a no-nonsense cop who is haunted by a tragedy that befell his wife and daughter years ago, and to this day he still has not caught the man who did it.  As he unleashes a new trail of clues that may lead to discovering who is responsible for his wife’s death, he discovers a powerful hallucinogenic drug that an evil corporation controls – and of course it’s up to him to take them down, basically, with lots of exploding glass, gun shots, and gratuitous “look, I’m being serious” face-shots,, one after the other virtually without ceasing.

This is a summarization of the plot, and I say summarization because there are times when it truly doesn’t make any sense. The plot hops from Payne, to another detective on the case, to a bad guy with nasty tattoos on his rippling sweaty German super-soldier like body, intercut with flashbacks that helpfully obfuscate the storyline while giving us boring stretches of tedium to take a break from the tedious stretches of boring.

Occasionally some style breaks through the mildewed surface of the movie, in some scenes where we get to see the hallucinogenic effects of the drug, but all of these are too few and far between, and because the precise origins of the hallucinations are unclear, there’s never any real motivation to care for the characters to whom this is happening – big whoop, you have some people tripping out on a strange kind of LSD. “Max Payne” is like a clichéd big city detective version of Constantine, only it’s a poser, a PG-13 rip-off scam that will cheat both viewers and fans of the video game out of what could have been a legitimately fun ride.

Mark Wahlberg seems pretty pissed off most of the time, as if he hadn’t read the script before signing on. The rest of the cast limps around like the dying stars they are, from the pathetically and obliviously over-the-top “bad girl” Mila Kunis, to last year’s “Hitman” love interest Olga Kurylenko as the token hooker who wants to sleep with the hero precisely because he’s so damn resistant to her wiles, to Ludacris once again picking the wrong movie to try prove he has an acting career.

Though I have never played the “Max Payne” video game, I do know that it’s one of the landmark video games of all time, and from most gamers that I have spoken to, the movie, as usual, butchers the video game story into little tiny pieces because they don’t trust the audience to digest anything bigger than what a two-year old could safely choke down. And if your experience watching this movie is anything like mine was,  you’ll most likely want to do choke right back up the terrible trash you just joked down. There’s really no point to the movie – it can claim to have some kind of style, but that’s nothing more than amateurish low lighting with high contrast between light and dark, combined with a few fiery demonic/angelic scenes that, though cool-looking, do not save this movie from inflicting a MAXimum amount of PAYNE.

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