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Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is a maverick cop with little regard for rules and nothing left to lose. Hell-bent on revenge, he’s determined to track down those responsible for the brutal murder of his family, but his obsessive investigation takes him on a nightmarish journey where dark fantasy collides with stark reality. As the mystery deepens, Max is forced to battle enemies beyond the natural world...and face an unthinkable betrayal that will drive him to the edge of his own sanity.
For more about Max Payne and the Max Payne Blu-ray release, see Max Payne Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 26, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Olga Kurylenko, Chris O'Donnell
Director: John Moore
» See full cast & crew
Max Payne Blu-ray Review
'Max Payne' maximizes Blu-ray audio.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 26, 2009
I don't believe in Heaven. I believe in pain, I believe in fear, I believe in death.
What is it about hit video games making for very mediocre movies? Max Payne is the latest to go from the digital realms of PCs and into the celluloid world of the big screen, and once again, the results are mixed. Certainly not a horrendous film, Max Payne is just average, a fairly dull and routine movie from start to finish that at least tries to be a step above. The film earns an "A" for effort but a "C" for execution. It's clear that its purpose is to try and be more than a loud and dumb action extravaganza, and parts of the movie do work in that regard. Still, the movie just can't overcome a bland script with transparent characters and obvious plot twists. The film works just a bit too hard to be a true "leave your brain at the door" experience. It tries to be too much, to cater to too many audiences, and ends up as something that pushes the right buttons but doesn't really deliver the outcome expected of it. As the credits roll, it becomes clear that the movie is just another in a growing list of decent, but not at all memorable, video game-turned movie adaptations, much like Hitman or Doom.
Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg, The Happening) spends his days working the cold case files as a New York City detective, and his nights attempting to piece together the unsolved murder of his family. As Max tracks down more clues, he discovers a potent new drug that offers highly hallucinogenic powers to its users. Originally developed to be a super-soldier serum for use by the military, it was found mostly ineffective save for a select few. When one of the drug's users is found mutilated, Max's old partner, Alex Balder (Donal Logue), links this murder with that of Max's wife, but he, too, is killed before he is able to share the information with Max. Nevertheless, Max works to find the information and, with the help of his father's former partner, B.B. (Beau Bridges, Stargate: The Ark of Truth), begins to piece the puzzle of his family's murder together. As Max gets closer to the truth, his true enemy reveals himself, leading him to a devastating realization and a bloody showdown.
There are some good concepts at work here, and the film captures the solemnity of a man still fighting the most difficult minutes of his life years after the fact. Mark Wahlberg, despite a hit-or-miss script, delivers a decent performance, definitely not memorable, but suitable to the material and style of the movie. The remainder of the cast play throwaway characters and are good enough, but are not overly developed. Then again, they don't really need to be, considering the film is hardly all that deep, despite its best efforts to be otherwise. At day's end, the movie is entitled Max Payne, a title that, whether the viewer has played the game or not, instantly brings to mind visions of extreme violence, a one-man wrecking crew pulling off his best Arnold in Commando impersonation, laying waste to dozens, if not hundreds, of faceless bad guys who serve no purpose than to be mowed down around each corner. Unfortunately, despite the title, the movie sees very little action during the first two acts, and the first act, in particular, which plays out as more of a character study than anything else, is the best part of the film. Once the bullets really start flying during the final 30 minutes or so, the excitement picks up, but there is nothing to set the action apart from most any other Action film out there. It sounds great and is fun to watch, but it's also completely forgettable.
Max Payne aims for a sort of hybrid style. Director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines) does his best to lend to the film a gritty, cold, depressing atmosphere, much like the post-murder world in which Max Payne lives, as well as creating several scenes that seem to be game-inspired, all coming together with something of a supernatural, even if only drug-induced, twist. Still, the movie drags in the middle, and despite a fair amount of action in the final act, the semi-supernatural flair doesn't seem to fit with the themes of the first half of the movie, nor does the surprise revelation near the end add all that much to the experience. Max Payne seems to want to be the best of several worlds, the gritty police drama, the pseudo-supernatural thriller, and the guns-blazing action extravaganza. All three are genres that have pretty much been done to death, and done better than presented here. Much like was the case with Constantine, which sort of tried to do something similar, Max Payne loses focus by trying to be too many things at once.
Max Payne Blu-ray, Video Quality
No eye strain with Max Payne on Blu-ray; 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release once again delivers the goods, this 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer another winner. The film is generally dark and bleak, bathed in shades of dark gray and blue with plenty of dark corners and backgrounds that are reproduced with fine clarity. This is definitely not the kind of film that jumps off the screen with vibrant hues and amazing depth, but what it does is shine in the context of its intended look, and the results often blow viewers away, as much as the weapons Max packs in every scene. Detail is never washed out, as faces, building façades, clothing, and all sorts of objects appear realistic. Background objects remain clear and sharp, too. Grain is light, but the film manages to retain a slightly gritty appearance thanks in large part to its drab color scheme. Flesh tones often take on a cold, lifeless, almost ghastly appearance, though in the context of the oftentimes icy look of the picture, they fit in well. Everything adds up to what makes for a very high quality Blu-ray image that looks about as good as a first-rate theatrical presentation.
Max Payne Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Max Payne shoots up Blu-ray with a fabulous DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Although likely to be enjoyed first and foremost for its amazing action segments, this track also creates a strong atmosphere, with all the channels working to bring a subtle rumble during some scenes, the bustling sounds of a busy office in others, the flickering of a fluorescent light here, and the pouring of rain there. Still, it is the action, and the gunfire in particular, that makes the track the high-octane extravaganza that it is. The shots from Payne's Taurus Judge revolver rumble with alarming authority. The entire track shakes, rattles, and rolls, both subtly and powerfully, with the surround speakers working overtime to bring the movie to life. Some segments, a party in chapter four, for example, are artificially drowned out in favor of the dialogue, not very realistic but an artistic license needed to allow the scene to work. The film's first major shoot-out comes in chapter 17 and is an impressive sonic accomplishment, standing toe-to-toe with the best shoot-out scenes yet on Blu-ray, featuring gunfire that erupts from every square inch of the listening area, both full auto bursts from a SWAT team's armaments and semi-automatic shots from Payne's Beretta pound and impact on all sorts of surfaces. This is easily one of the most aggressive tracks on the market when the action gets going. Rounding out an excellent soundtrack is precise dialogue reproduction. Max Payne, sonically, anyway, is a true champion on Blu-ray.
Max Payne Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Max Payne fails to "Max"-imize the number of supplements available in this package. First up is a commentary track featuring Director John Moore, Production Designer Daniel Dorrance, and Visual Effects supervisor Everett Burrell. No surprise, the track is more technical in nature, and generally serious, discussing how various shots were composed, pointing out several final touches, mentioning the performances of the various cast members, the costuming, providing a few anecdotes from the set, and more. The track flows well and is generally engaging, though it plays as mostly standard stuff. As is the case with most commentaries, all but die-hard fans may wish to skip this one. Michelle Payne (Graphic Novel) (480p, 13:40) fills in a few of the blanks left by the movie, chronicling Max's wife's final moments and her discovery of the information that ultimately led to her death.
Picture is a two-part documentary (480p, 29:01 & 29:39) that is a lengthy but still rather basic piece that chronicles the making of the film, featuring a bevy of cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and all of the usual suspects. Fans will see Wahlberg in make-up, plenty of set-ups for various shots, some clowning around on-set, and some candid comments from director John Moore and others. It's mostly fluff and not all that interesting to watch. The disc also offers a BonusView (Blu-ray Profile 1.1) feature, available with the theatrical version of the film. Entitled 'Walkthroughs and Cheats' Making 'Max Payne', the piece examines the making of various scenes from the film. It plays in a small window over the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, and is only available with the theatrical version of the film. The segments are available separate from the movie, and play in standard definition with a runtime of 53:24. Finally, the first disc is concluded with 1080p trailers for Babylon A.D. and Mirrors. Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of the film. Played back on a second generation iPod touch, the image looks fine with the usual problems associated with digital copy content minimized, with blacks that lack an abundance of pixelation and limited banding. The audio is rather ho-hum, as expected, with limited range and clarity.
Max Payne Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Max Payne is a routine video game-turned-movie adaptation that sees about equal parts of good and bad. The film succeeds as a character study of a man coping with the loss of his family; works well enough, though not memorably, as an action picture; and fails in trying to be too much rather staying focused, particularly with regards to the super-solider and pseudo-supernatural angles. Perhaps it played better in the video games, but the translation to film is certainly mixed, at best. The film's few redeeming qualities, not to mention killer soundtrack, do make it worth watching once, particularly on Blu-ray. Aside from the already-mentioned dynamic soundtrack, the disc also features an impressive video transfer and a nice selection of supplements. Max Payne is best enjoyed as a rental, particularly when viewers crave a loud and immersive sound experience.
Blu-ray bundles with Max Payne (3 bundles)
Max Payne Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Max Payne Blu-ray Gets Detailed - December 1, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Max Payne', which is due to hit store shelves on January 20th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Coming on a BD-50 with a digital copy, video will ...
• Max Payne Planned for Blu-ray Release - November 25, 2008
Early advertisement material has revealed that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will bring the Mark Wahlberg video game-based film 'Max Payne' in its unrated form to Blu-ray on January 20th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Technical specs have not been announced ...
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