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Max Payne (Blu-ray Review)

5 Feb, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

Max Payne

Box Office $40.7 million
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 two-DVD set, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence including intense shooting sequences, drug content, some sexuality and brief strong language.
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Chris O’Donnell, Amaury Nolasco, Olga Kurylenko.

In the annals of movies based on video games, Max Payne will be remembered for sticking close to its story roots: Good cop’s family is murdered by junkies on a dangerous new drug; good cop must sacrifice values and align himself with shady characters to get vengeance; good cop gets stuck in needlessly complicated plot involving assorted gangs, dirty police and a corrupt corporation; friends are actually enemies, and vice versa.

A jumbled story can succeed in a video game. After all, you’re actually involved in third-person shooters, blowing stuff up, taking bad guys out with headshots, looking for the next chapter boss. Why is irrelevant.

But in movie form, such a narrative often leaves viewers detached and uninterested.

In Max Payne, a new bad guy is introduced every other scene, it seems, and none of them last long enough to be hated. And there’s little suspense from the beginning — the people behind the murder of Payne’s family are pretty obvious.

The film does look outstanding on Blu-ray Disc, with a crisp, gritty, dirty city setting, and a purposefully nasty feel to every death scene. But as good as it looks, the false advertising from the previews also gets in the way: There’s nothing supernatural about Max Payne the movie. Maybe if there were actual angels and demons, it would have been more interesting.

Two excellent picture-in-picture offerings could arguably be used on your first viewing, from the start of the movie, and a short-form “Michelle Payne” graphic novel should delight video game fans.

A digital copy, a commentary and a making-of documentary round out the Blu-ray features. Both the theatrical and unrated, extended versions of the film are included.

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