Max Payne (review)
I think I’m entirely justified in saying, “Hey, wait a minute…!” They promised us dark fantasy with Max Payne, and so it seems shall be the case for maybe half the running time of this based-on-a-video-game action flick. The title character is a cop in a faux New York City who’s investigating murders that appear to have elements of a fantastical nature: there’s an evil corp called Aesir Pharmaceuticals (anyone familiar with kickass Norse mythology, which seems to have been invented for action movies, knows what aesir means), there are mythic Valkyries that reward valiant warriors in death, there are tattoos that can actually protect you (and not, seemingly, in a “which prison gang do you belong to?” kind of way), there’s “a place called Ragnarok — it’s an old club, East Side,” which simply screams with the promise of Something Cool. Plus, everything is all shadowy and noirish, and it rains a lot. This is the kind of movie that, for a while, makes me feel entirely justified in seeing star Mark Wahlberg (The Happening), as Max, as one of the few 21st-century inheritors of the noir-antihero mantle. (I admit, I’ve got the teeniest bit of a crush on him, he’s so manly and masculine and manly and all, an aspect that is put to excellent use here. But Wahlberg deserves better than this.) Too soon, though, all those wide-open possibilities about where this story can go get so narrowed down into something banal and bleak and ordinary that you can hardly breathe with it, and all the promise gets blown away like so many of the disposable bad guys offered up for Max’s target practice. And the first person who attempts to refute my complaints with “Well, what can you expect, it’s based on a video game” gets 50 lashes with a wet USB cable.