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Movie Review

Max Payne

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence including intense shooting sequences, drug content, some sexuality and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Thriller, Action, Crime, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
October 17, 2008 (wide—3,200 theaters)
DVD release: January 20, 2009
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Spirits in the Bible

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

NUDITY—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes? Answer

Featuring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Donal Logue, Chris O'Donnell, Joel Gordon, Kate Burton, Rico Simonini, Ted Atherton, Bill Boyd, Marianthi Evans, Olga Kurylenko, Amaury Nolasco, Jamie Hector, Nelly Furtado, Brea Grant, Siobhan Murphy, Conrad Pla, Andrew Friedman, Genadijs Dolganovs, Jay Hunter, Warren Belle
Director: John Moore
“Behind Enemy Lines,” “The Omen,” “Flight of the Phoenix”
Producer: Scott Faye, Tom Karnowski, Karen Lauder, Peter Veverka, Julie Yorn
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Growing up in a household full of video games, I surprisingly never played any of the “Max Payne” video games. So with that in mind, I cannot adequately compare the movie adaptation to the best-selling video game. However, I can say that the film itself is poorly executed.

Max Payne is a NYPD cop whose wife and child were brutally murdered. Losing the two people who meant the world to him, his happiness and heart were permanently destroyed. What remains is a man whose sole purpose becomes finding the last murderer who was never apprehended. Working in the cold case unit, Max spends his days tracking down any possible leads. One lead has him meeting a flirty Natasha. After Payne rejects her advances, Natasha is murdered, and Payne is named the prime suspect.

After Natasha’s murder, her sister, Mona Sax (Mila Kunis) sets out in finding her murderer. After learning that Max Payne is not the murderer, she agrees to team up with Payne in helping him find his wife’s killer. Payne eventually finds out that his wife was working on a drug called Valkyr for the military. Its purpose was to enhance the strength of any soldier. Instead, hallucinogenic and addictive side effects end up making Valkyr a hot drug on the streets. Its addicted members tattoo themselves with angel wings.

The theatrical trailers are extremely misleading. When seeing the winged creatures, the audience might expect this movie to have a supernatural element. This is not the case at all. The winged creatures are only the side effects of the Valkyr drug. Along with these gargoyle-like creatures, heavy rain and snowfall were added to create a gothic cinematography. Annoyance comes in when in one scene snow was shown covering the streets and in the next, the snow magically disappeared while heavy rain took its place. These magical weather changes happen all throughout the film. All this resulted in a poor attempt of a “Sin City” replica.

The first hour of the film slowly drags by as it’s tediously repeated how Payne will stop at nothing in finding his wife’s murderer. Once finding out that the winged creatures are merely hallucinations, it becomes irksome when they keep appearing just to take up screen time. Some Viking mythology was thrown in to describe the purpose of the creatures and the reason why the addicted members bear the winged tattoo.

The actors could not work with much since there really is not much to the script. The majority of characters are extremely one-dimensional. Almost no background information is given of any of the secondary characters. I only knew Mona Sax was an assassin after reading about the game. No motives or stories were given for the villains. The audience is just expected to label them the “bad guys” and to keep moving. Once finding out the identity of his wife’s murderer, I wondered how it could have possibly taken three long years for Payne to find out the answer.

Offensive content

When this film was originally submitted to the MPAA, it had first received an ‘R’ rating. Director Moore has stated that he simply edited some scenes to win the more bankable ‘PG-13’ rating. This simple editing was done more likely in the violent scenes. While the violence is heavy in certain parts of the film, “Max Payne” is relatively bloodless. The scene would often end right before the impact happen. A subway train hits one man; two victims get attacked with a machete. There are also plenty of bullets fired throughout the film. Some are shown to enter their intended victims. Dead bodies are shown with a small amount of blood. All the victims were fully clothed and just stared at the camera to represent a dead body.

The film only contains 28 uses of profanity. In all, I counted 2 GDs, one ‘f’ word, and the Lord’s name said in vain about 5 times. Sadly, this has been one of the fewest counts I have had in recent PG-13 movies.

The sexual content in the film is relatively moderate, and it all has to do with Natasha. When Max meets her at a party, she is dressed in a skimpy negligee that tries to pass for a dress. She flirts with him, and he invites her to his apartment. She tries to kiss him, and he stops her. She then promptly takes off her dress and walks around his apartment with only panties. What prevented an ‘R’ rating was that she was only shown topless from behind. There is a quick glimpse of her breasts from behind. Some might miss it, but it is worth mentioning.

Max Payne’s life became meaningless and too painful with the death of his wife and child. The sole purpose of his life became seeking revenge on his family’s murderer. When finding out the potential killer’s location, he loaded up a single shotgun while fully knowing that once entering the club, he might not come out alive. He said that it would end his suffering and join him back with his wife. What a sad, purposeless existence to have.

When people do us wrong, it’s easy to forget about God amidst our pain, anger, and sadness. However, Jesus said:

“will not God bring justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice and quickly…”

With a God so almighty, it is natural to question, how could he relate to us when emotions are so unique to the human experience. It’s at that time, we should remember that Jesus once came down in the flesh, experiencing how it was to be fully human. He mourned, wept, was betrayed, and cruelly crucified before finally dying for the sins of mankind. In Hebrews 4:15, it says,

“…let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest [Jesus] who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”

I do not personally recommend this film. Because of the sexual content, I do not believe it is appropriate for children of any age. The first hour of the film was almost a bore. While the last part did have some action, those hallucinated winged creatures reappearing again to burn up a ceiling ruined the last chance for me to take the film seriously. Revenge is also glorified in this film. It falsely shows that seeking revenge will provide some kind of closure. Only Christ can establish true peace and closure.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—The movie start with Max Payne's voice saying “I don't believe in heaven, I believe in pain, I believe in fear, I believe in death…”. It's kind of a desperate man's plea, a man who lost everything including hope… The protagonist Max Payne lost his wife and child and drowned in his desire for vengeance and a web of violence follows him…

I played both games Max Payne and Max Payne: Rise and Fall of Max Payne; both games were success especially the first one because of it's innovative (inspired by the movie The Matrix) bullet time feature… Both games were extremely violent and a movie based on the game naturally follow the same path. Yet, the movie follows a bit different story line. Though some of the scenarios are exactly like the game, the movie sometimes is much darker and sometimes much lighter!!

I don't expect a movie like this to be Brother Sun, Sister Moon and a lot of Max Payne fans are disappointed… I am giving this movie a positive rating because it's a movie especially made for Max Payne fans and the hero with all his downfalls keep a sense of justice and honor. It's not a movie for the family, especially for young children. Yet, unlike many of the trashy movie versions of video games, this movie tried to keep some class.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Cyril Thomas, age 28
Neutral
Neutral—Well, I'll begin by saying that I did enjoy the action in this film. I personally like good fighting scenes and shooting scenes. I have always enjoyed Mark Wahlberg's acting and thought the stunts and filming were done well in this movie. The things that I found offensive, as it is a PG-13 movie, is the swearing, there is a moderate amount as in a usual PG-13 movie, but as is always, unnessesary. The second thing I found offensive and dark, was the demonic images throughout the movie, there is however an explanation to them, the fact that they are caused by drug usage. I would not fill children's head with this movie and would recomend it for maturer audiences. I think they may have been able to make a better storyline, because it was a bit predictable. In my opinion this isn't the best written action movie out there, but is still entertaining in some aspects.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Whitley, age 20 (USA)
Negative

none

Comments from young people
Neutral—The movie making quality was good and there was not so much offensive language as compared to other movies of this type. As a Christian, however, I found it offensive, because of the excessive violence and the numerous drug references. I did think the movie was really exciting and definitely not predictable, but I would not recommend it to anyone 10 and under.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Nathan Johnson, age 13
Negative—I disagree with the review. The film did not glorify revenge.
***SPOILERS***
After Max gets his revenge, he sees his wife and kid, but instead of remaining with them, he goes back to Earth. So his revenge has not enabled him to be with them again, nor has it bought him closure. Despite getting his revenge, Max still has his “bad life,” revenge bought him nothing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Sam Riazi, age 17
Positive—This movie, overall, was a weird movie, with all of it leading to drugs. People see things that look like demons.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Daniel, age 16
Positive—“Max Payne” is definitely a good movie, despite the sexuality and language. It had a very compelling storyline, with Max trying to find some comfort from his family's death. I don't really think that killing the man who killed his family would completely compensate for it, but it might fill up the void in his life just a little. It also had some extremely good action scenes, which were some of the best out of all the movies I've seen this year. The cast was superb. Mark Walhberg was perfect for this role. His character was very interesting and was one of the best action heroes in film. I liked how he resisted Natasha's advances, showing that he still has morals, despite losing everything dearest to him. Mila Kunis was also good, although I would have liked to see a little more backstory on her character. I was, also, a little disappointed with the Valkyries just being hallucinations from the drug, but they were still an interesting part of the story. All in all, Max Payne was a good movie and is definitely one of my favorites.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Nick, age 14 (USA)
Positive—It's a neat movie. The action is good and nicely done, but not gory or grotesque. There's a decent plot, and the visuals are elegant. A positive part is his monologue change from the start and end. In the beginning he says how he believes in death, pain, and such. Right at the end monologue he finishes “…but I do believe in angels.” While I rather dislike the sexual content they unnecessarily added, it isn't extreme and can be skipped over easily.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Andrew Benson, age 17 (USA)