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Film / Max Payne

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"Remember when you were a kid and you'd hold your breath when you run past a graveyard?"
"The Devil is building his army. Max Payne is looking for something that God wants to stay hidden. That is what makes him more dangerous."

Max Payne is a Film Noir action film from the year 2008. Somewhat loosely based on the video game series of same name, it was directed by John Moorenote  and it stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges and Ludacris.

Unlike the game, in this adaptation the framed fugitive undercover detective Max Payne is a cold case detective, who is obsessed with finding the killer of his wife and child. His personal investigations get him involved in the killing of Natasha Sax and his fellow detective Alex Balder by the ex-marine Jack Lupino. Natasha's sister Mona, convinced that Max is the perpetrator, sets her sights on him. After the things clear up between them, they form an alliance to solve Natasha's murder and its link to the designer drug Valkyr which has been flooding the streets.

The film provides the examples of:

  • Above the Influence: Natasha Sax (played by Olga Kurylenko, a former Bond girl) more or less throws herself at Max. Max is...less than interested.
  • Action Girl: Mona Sax in the Unrated Version has her kicking more ass.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the games, Valkyr is taken via injection, hence the commonly seen "V" graffiti tags which feature a syringe. In the film the drug is taken orally, yet V tags identical to those in the game are seen several times.
  • Ascended Extra: B.B. is upgraded from being a minor character and just another boss enemy in the game (albeit the last one you fight in a straight fight), to being the main antagonist of the film, with Nicole Horne being moved to a more hand-off, Greater-Scope Villain role.
  • Ax-Crazy: The people who can take Valkyr without succumbing to the hallucinations, like Lupino and later Max.
  • Bald of Evil: Lupino.
  • Big Bad: Lupino, natch. Later, B.B. though you should know this by now.
  • Big Bad Friend: B.B. Hensley
  • The Big Rotten Apple: New York city is a cold and an unpleasant place in this film.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve: Max uses the Valkyr to this effect after his dip into the waters of New York harbor.
  • Bullet Time: Appears only twice in the film, despite it being the main selling point in the games.
  • The Cameo: James McCaffrey, who voiced Max in the games, appears as an FBI agent.
  • Car Cushion: One Valkyr victim jumps from his window and lands on a car.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: B.B. and Nicole Horne.
  • Dirty Cop: Aesir corporation has an access on a squad of them.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Lupino is not the Big Bad. But anyone who's played the game should already know that.
  • Dramatic Slip: Natasha falls in the back alley while running from those flying monsters.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Over half of the movie is spent building up a major climax between Max and Lupino, but when Max finally runs into him, Lupino is unceremoniously shot in the back.
  • Guns Akimbo: Max, while under the effects of Valkyr, mows down mooks with two guns.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The SWAT officers who come for Max in the Aesir shootout have a hard time hitting him with modern rifles, while he does far more damage to them blind-firing a pistol.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Max sees a vision of his wife telling him, "Not yet, Max." just after he's killed B.B., and just before he's arrested.
  • Karma Houdini: Greater-Scope Villain Nicole Horne avoids Max's retribution and makes more money, though the stinger suggests her reprieve is short-lived.
  • Lady in Red: Natasha is a sexually aggressive, mob-associated drug user who wears a bright red dress.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Max and Mona briefly before forming an alliance together.
  • Meaningful Name: Max Payne = maximum pain.
  • Miles Gloriosus: B.B. Hensley is fine with shooting Lupino in the back or bragging about how killing Michelle and her baby awakened a badass inside him, but he immediately panics the moment he's in real danger.
  • Mushroom Samba: Max's climactic Roaring Rampage of Revenge is performed while he's tripping on a dose of Valkyr and not only do the visuals reinforce it, we often cut to Max's POV and it's full of flying angels and devastated landscapes.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers focused on brief moments of CGI hallucinations and misleading snippets of dialogue to make it seem like the film has a supernatural edge a la Constantine, which would have been a literal extension of the first game's Norse mythology themes.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Thank you, B.B., for talking too much and putting Valkyr in Max's jacket pocket. Had it not been for you, Max would've died on the docks from hypothermia.
    • This also goes for an even earlier moment when he saves Max in Lupino's lair.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Max beats Colvin with his pistol to get info out of him,
  • Protagonist Title
  • Psycho Serum: Valkyr has this effect on some individuals since it was supposed to enchance soldiers' prowess in the battlefield. Others just get high and some get horrifying hallucinations.
  • Race Lift: Caucasian Deputy Chief Jim Bravura from the games is turned into African-American Internal Affairs Lieutenant played by Ludacris.
  • Ready for Lovemaking: Natasha poses like this in Payne's bedroom. He is unfazed.
  • The Stinger: After the end credits, a scene plays where Mona Sax approaches Max in a bar and hands him a picture of Horne, suggesting that they are going after her next.
  • Signs of Disrepair: Lupino is shown at one point standing on the roof of a building with a broken neon sign for "Raglan and Brock", which is a reference to the Ragnarock club from the game.
  • Telepathic Sprinklers: Payne shoots a sprinkler with a pistol and they all go off.
  • Villain of Another Story: Mona tries to keep her sister off drugs and sympathizes with Max's losses and mission, but she also has authority over several Mafiya goons and a Dirty Cop informant and seems to be concluding a mob negotiation in one scene.
  • Villainous Rescue: Just when Lupino is about to kill Max, B.B. shows up out of nowhere and shoots him in the back.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Lupino, who doesn't seem to mind the coldness of the winter around him. Even in the middle of a snowstorm when he's sweating.