Although it is based on a videogame, Max Payne works very well as a movie, mainly because director John Moore started out in life as a cameraman and his extraordinary vision permeates every shot of this visually arresting film.
Conceived as a high tech film noir, the action centres on tormented cop Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg), shattered by the brutal murder of his wife and child and now obsessively investigating the slightest lead in order to find the killers. His journey takes him through the underbelly of the city and meetings with lowlifes, drug dealers and scammers including goodtime girl Natasha (Olga Kurylenko of Bond fame) and her sister Mona (Mila Kunis). But as Max learns more about this other world that exists side by side with his own, he finds the two have a common link that is closer to home than he could ever have imagined.
Shot in cold blues and greys, with Max wandering through a winter city where snow falls silently, this is a beautifully framed and imagined other world. It has a dreamlike/nightmarish quality highlighted by some stunning hallucinatory scenes that could have come straight from a William Blake painting. Yet Wahlberg’s acting makes everything feel extremely real; you can sense his despair, his hunger for revenge and the emptiness in his life. Liberally scattered throughout the film are action sequences that explode this naturalistic quality and take it onto a supernatural level.
Moore has managed to capture the cold, dark atmosphere of the original game and give it that certain extra something, although the sombre mood of the movie may be too depressing for some. Dee Pilgrim