Sunday, October 19, 2008

Max Payne

I hope you like talking, and mood. Yep mood and talking, can't get enough!

There's a key scene in the Max Payne video game where he goes into a diner only to be ambushed and the place set ablaze. It's a tense segment where you're trying to escape being burned alive while people are shooting at you. In the movie's rough equivalent of this segment, Max goes into a diner and then...just leaves. So it goes for the rest of this snoozer, I felt all three hours of this 99 minute movie.

Between all the talking and set pieces a story starts to come out that seems dissimilar from the game. However, after reviewing wikipedia it turns out that the plots were closer than I recalled and I have to think that the screen writers sought to play down the predominant mob elements of the game (which were absent in the movie) and play up the left wing bilge about an evil pharmaceutical company engaging in twisted military-industrial research (which in the game was a shadow of it's cinematic portrayal). I went to play the game to check my memory (the game is more than seven years old at this point), but the Windows game did what Windows games do best*:

My Windows gaming experience to a 'T'

The game had some catchy themes, but it's main draw was novelty items. The Matrix had come out two years prior and Max Payne exploited the bullet time obsession of the day by allowing Max to be able to slow down time over short stretches so that he could get an edge on opponents. As well, the game featured a graphical art, crime noir style that, while not necessarily original was basically unique for a video game. However appealing these items were in the game all them to varying degrees were already old hat in cinema when the game came out. In the intervening years it's become even more challenging to make an engaging film based off these points and the film suffered further when they failed to bring in the games other predominant feature, lots and lots of shooting.

With a violent and dark motif, the game easily snagged itself an 'M' rating (i.e. 'R'). While watching the movie, I saw the style and the talking, and more style and talking, and...well you get the point, and I came to think that it was mistake for the producers to drive the films rating down to PG-13 (i.e. 'T'). All the good stuff that gave the game its heft had been dumped. One particular segment in the game involves a play-through of a nightmare for Max that's one of the most disturbing, and yet involving scenes in any game I've played, and although the film made what can best be described as a very strong weak showing to force the scene in, it was left in such a gelded state that it may as well have been dumped all together along with all the other good scenes that were in the game.

It's a shame, the movie had everything in it that should have made a movie work: decent acting, nice sets, respectable direction; but when a movie gets beat by a video game in the story department it has issues. Games can get away with crappy stories since they can rely on other mechanisms to keep it entertaining, for movies though that's all they have; or this case, don't have.

*I recently saw something, again, that poked fun of the Mac for the lack of video games it plays. The joke though is that playing video games on a Windows system can be such an exercise in pain that it's doubtful that anyone in their right mind would want to play a lot of video games on Windows either.

1 comment:

movie fan said...

i suspect the storyline for Max Payne is a lot more exciting when it's happening in the form of a video game... except for those few exciting parts that i already saw in the preview, it was a snoozefest