Here Comes the Payne
Published in The Student, University of Edinburgh’s oldest student newspaper
If you’re thinking of translating a successful computer game to film in the near future, here are a few simple guidelines. Remember to include plenty of references to characters that appear in the game, but not the film. Consider using gratuitous slow motion and outdated bullet time effects. Above all else, mercilessly savage the game’s story until it is no longer recognisable or coherent.
I’m in two minds about Max Payne. On one hand it’s a dire action movie that achieves nothing, least of all entertainment. On the other, it takes one of my favourite action games and drags its legacy through a pile of snow face-first. Everything good about the game- the film noir atmosphere, enthralling plot and strong characterisation- is thrown out, substituted for Hollywood gloss and Marky Mark waving about guns like he’s trying to compensate for something. Only one thing survived the transition: Max’s permanently constipated expression.
Three years prior to the movie, junkies with an agenda murder Max’s wife and newborn child. Since then he’s been chasing a series of dead ends and brooding in the police department basement, sacrificing friends and fashion sense in the process. However, things take a turn when a dead Russian girl’s tattoo matches one of the thugs who killed Mrs Payne. It’s time for revenge. It’s time for poorly- written dialogue. It’s time for PAYNE.
There is little point in a highbrow critique of the plot and cinematography since it’s pretty clear the production team couldn’t care less, either. The aesthetic of Sin City has been sloppily smeared into the gaping holes in the script like Polyfilla. The all-too-infrequent shootouts were, to be fair, reasonably enjoyable, but the action scenes are too stunted and infrequent to make an impact in the slough of despond that shrouds them. You get the feeling that director John Moore ran out of ideas and decided to fill the void with bullets. This was a bad idea.
At several points during the film, members of the audience laughed out loud. Not at any actual jokes, you understand, but at the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing. I, like Max, was too depressed to laugh and too angry to cry, preferring to sit in silent indignation.
Max is a man with nothing to lose. You too have nothing to lose by avoiding this film. For the price of a ticket you could just buy the game instead, which is an infinitely more enjoyable experience. The film is not even worthy of the pun “payneful”. It is merely shit, and it’s not often you can say that.