Here’s a controversial thought, Max Payne isn’t that bad of a movie. Sure, the story is incredibly predictable, the supernatural elements feel out of place, and Mark Wahlberg feels like he’s acting. Interesting, Wahlberg would be one of five picks for the role as Max Payne so the casting is fine, but his performance is just bland. On the bright side, it doesn’t even come close to the mess he was doing in The Happening. All-in-all, Max Payne isn’t such a bad feature and there were several moments that really elevated the video game adaptation. This article will highlight the five best scenes in the 2008 film. Let’s get started with the first moment.
The Opening Scene – “I Believe in death”
Max Payne is a gorgeous-looking film. It’s going for a gritty noir-style feature and while that clashes with the supernatural elements more often than not, the images in the video adaptation are amazing. Take the very first scene in which we hear Payne say, “I believe in death”. and the movie opens with Payne in a river with an army of bodies. Instantly, Max Payne captures your attention as a viewer. It isn’t just the fact that Max is swimming in a river full of bodies (which is some beautiful underwater cinematography), but it immediately has us questioning what’s going on. Why is Max Payne in a river full of dead bodies? Will he live or die? The opening sequence does an excellent job of introducing us into the world of Max Payne by establishing tone, character, and hint of plot. Max Payne may ultimately become a predictable journey, but the writers do a decent job with the popular video game character. Again, Wahlberg is a bit dry here, but it’s never to the point where it completely takes you out of the film.
Max Payne and The Three Criminals
I mentioned that the supernatural elements don’t particular mesh with the world of Max Payne and that’s due to the fact that it’s never truly explored to great effect. We barely understand the reasoning behind these supernatural moments and when you truly think about, they were never needed in the first place when it’s revealed that a corrupt organization and some drug is behind the strange killings. Nevertheless, the sequence in the train station helps add gravatas to the world of Max Payne and further establishes his character as well. The only thing missing is Max Payne’s signature wit, but the sequence plays out decently. Max Payne blurs the lines as the anti-hero, and this moment showcased that he’s willing to go outside of the law to get the truth. The criminals look like idiots the way everything is staged, but the action is exciting and though the supernatural elements don’t really gel, the train sequence was pretty cool.
Max Payne Encounters Owen
The staging for this is pretty great. The scene itself is nothing different than what you’ve seen in other movies and shows that have the similar moment, but the actor playing Owen was pretty darn good here. Oddly, Kunis never feels like a good fit for the role of Mona, though the actress is very talented. Despite the lack of chemistry between Kunis and Wahlberg (who have a strong dynamic in Ted), the scene is carried by Joel Gordon and the ending sequence that sees one of the dark angels ultimately kill Owen was nicely executed. I’ve already said my peace on the supernatural elements, but there’s no denying that some of the scene’s work because of them.
The Gunfire in Midtown
The action sequences are solid in Max Payne, but like everything else, it’s a been there, done that feel. It’s a shame that the movie never truly capitalizes on the Bullet Time elements that made the video games so much fun. We do get the slow-motion moments, but they often come across as Matrix intimidations. Still, the action is quiet entertaining. The chaotic feel is well translated and the sequences themselves are well shot. The best moment is Max running down the hallway as gunshots fire against him. the sequences of seeing the glass break are really cool, and the slow-motion moment actually helps here. Other than the lack of bullet time, the scenes may be too polished and clean, but that’s more of minor nitpick on my end.
The Final Flashback
Max shooting BB Hensley wasn’t a surprise, so the climax lacked much suspension when the plot goes in the expected direction. Still, the saving grace is the action and the final flashback of Max with Michelle and his baby. The film does a decent job with Max’s character development and these moments help flesh out the man between the guns. It’s a happy and light ending in such a dark and gritty world. Max Payne may not be perfect, but it’s not as bad as the 15% on rotten tomatoes suggests.
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