20th Century Fox
Now playing in cinemas nationwide
I wasn’t allowed to have video games as a child (which may explain a lot actually), so I’m not as familiar with the nether-realms that populate many of the films as I perhaps should be. “Max Payne” comes from a video game of the same title, about a New York City cop who is determined to avenge the seemingly needless murder of his wife and baby. Mark Whalberg plays our stoic hero in the film, which has been described in the press notes as a neo noir thriller. In other words, it’s like Dick Tracy with creepy CGI. When he’s not buried in the NYPD cold case office, Payne is on the hunt for the men who destroyed his life. It’s all very dark, snowy and desolate in the world that has been created on-screen. Kate Burton plays the czar-ess of a pharmaceutical giant, which also happens to be the old office of Missus Payne. Drugs are definitely a key element to the story since a whole gang of scuzz-buckets down vials of blue stuff and then experience paranoid delusions of winged demons who are going to swoop in and take them away. As a noir-ish mystery, it’s not the kind of film that can deliver any surprises; the unveiling of the secrets is predictable. As for the mythos of the character and his world, that is soon wiped away as well, despite the best efforts of the production design. Where “Payne” does succeed (and it’s not necessarily consistent) is in the action department. This is the kind of movie that makes you fall in love with the sound mixing department for making the echo of a shotgun shell sound so damn cool. There’s also a really nice office shootout. Beyond that, I’d wait for the DVD and use it to test your living room’s surround sound set-up.