Max Payne

Max Payne (2008)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges
Extras: Commentary Track, Video Commentary, Featurette, Graphic Novel, Digital Copy

Based on the video game of the same name, "Max Payne" is the 2008 movie adaptation of the material, directed by John Moore who was until then better known for his hapless and insensitive remakes of classics such as "Flight of the Phoenix" and "The Omen." Needless to say that I was very reluctant to watch "Max Payne," but as the Blu-Ray Disc arrived on my desk, I thought I'd give it a chance.

Max Payne is a tortured cop. His life has never been the same ever since his wife and baby child have been killed by an unknown assailant and got away with it. Payne has been transferred to the Cold Case department, where he works as a loner, unable to get over his past, still looking for clues that may help him find the killer. Then, one day, the missing link seems to surface as Max learns about a new drug circulating in the city and the strange symbolism affiliated with it. He once again sets out to find the murderer, only to find himself in bigger danger than he could ever have anticipated.

Spiced up with a bit of supernatural imagery, "Max Payne" is essentially a straight-forward revenge thriller with a broken cop. While it is nothing new, the film has a tone and some twists that keep it interesting nonetheless, making for an entertaining ride. The movie's biggest drawback are probably the numerous plot holes that plague the story – much like in "The Omen" remake, many things and people simply don't make a whole lot of sense. The biggest question in my mind remains why people would actually peruse this drug in the movie if it creates nothing but the most terrifying horror trips… masochism? And here I always thought people use drugs to make them feel good, but what do I know? Maybe it would help his films if John Moore would ask himself the question "Why?" more often, in order to come up with proper backstories and motivations for his characters.

Arriving in a 1080p high definition transfer the film couldn't look any better. Free of any blemishes, the transfer reveals an incredible level of detail while maintaining a very gritty look throughout. This grittiness is not a result of grain as you might expect, however, but instead that of high contrast and deep blacks – much in the way David Fincher created his look in the past. The presentation manages to perfectly reproduce these brutal contrasts, giving the image incredible sharpness and depth with its solid black levels. Color reproduction is also very faithful, making sure to bring out all the hues and tinges of the production design.

You won't be disappointed in the audio either ,as 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is delivering a DTS 5.1 HD Master Lossless Audio track on this disc that shows you how the boss is. With an incredibly aggressive mix, the film wastes no opportunity to bombard the viewer with explosions and directional shrapnel sounds, making for an energetic presentation throughout. Marco Beltrami's score is also wonderfully reproduced here, giving viewers the best possible experience of the masterfully put together music.
The Blu-Ray version includes both the theatrical version of the film, as well as the unrated Extended Cut on the same disc. I like this trend that studios include both versions on a release ,instead of trying to sell them individually the way they still do on DVD. Let's hope they will keep it that way. In addition a digital copy of the unrated cut is also included on a separate disc, for playback on your Pc or a mobile device.

The release is also bolstered up with bonus materials, such as a commentary track featuring director John Moore, production designer Daniel Dorrance and visual effects supervisor Everett Burrell. The commentary track is insightful and full of mostly technical information, allowing viewers to get a better understanding of the production as a whole.

Also included is a picture-in-picture track that offers kind of a video commentary and a look behind the scenes as the movie runs. Further included is a Picture Documentary and the "Michelle Payne" Graphic Novel.

"Max Payne" was a huge success when it arrived on the video game scene some 10 odd years ago. I am surprised that the franchise still seems to hold so much power that someone would actually make a movie of it in 2008, but it was worth the effort. While far from being perfect, "Max Payne" is, to my surprise, not a bad movie, but could have benefitted from a better director. John Moore may be able to paint pretty pictures on the screen but he doesn't seem to understand some of the basics of "plot" and "character development." Still, as a mindless popcorn action thriller "Max Payne" doesn't disappoint, especially when it looks as magnificent as on this Blu-Ray Disc.