The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13/Unrated
Feature running time: 100/103 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Olga Kurylenko, Donal Loque, Chris O'Donnell
Directed by: John Moore
Music by: Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders
Written by: Beau Thorne
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 20, 2009
"A man with nothing to lose"
Max Payne (Wahlberg) is a maverick cop with little regard for rules and nothing left to lose. Hell-bent on revenge, he's determined to track down those responsible for the brutal murder of his family, but his obsessive investigation takes him on a nightmarish journey where dark fantasy collides with stark reality. As the mystery deepens, Max is forced to battle enemies beyond the natural world...and face an unthinkable betrayal that will drive him to the edge of his own sanity.
This film is based on the popular video game series by Remedy Entertainment. Here is some quick background from Wikipedia:
The Max Payne series is influenced by Mad Max, directed by George Miller, and the Hong Kong action cinema genre, particularly the work of director John Woo. It was one of the first video games to incorporate the "bullet time" effect into gameplay, made famous by The Matrix trilogy. The game contains many allusions to Norse mythology, particularly Ragnarok, and several of the names used in the game (Alfred Woden, Alex Balder, Aesir Corporation, Asgard Building, Valkyr) are those of the Norse gods and mythos. The game script has a notable gritty noir spirit and bears strong resemblance to hard-boiled detective novels by authors like Mickey Spillane.
I have never played the game but as someone who enjoys first person shooters I may have to give it a try. The story in the film plays out with the look and feel of a video game. The back story is told using flashbacks and the screenplay is simply written. Max Payne is a NY City Detective whose wife and child were murdered three years before the start of this story. He has spent every waking minute since them trying to capture the perpetrator and solve the case. His wife was working for a pharmaceutical company when she died and Max's good friend BB Hensley (Bridges) is their head of security and a retired NY City cop. While chasing down leads at a club owned by one of his informants Max runs into an attractive young woman with a tattoo of a pair of wings on her arm. There is more to her than meets the eye and unbeknownst to Max this meeting will lead him deep into an underground world of violence, drugs, and allow him to come face to face with those responsible for the murder of his family.
This film has a rather paper thin premise but being based upon a video game I didn't expect a crafty thriller. Like the film version of Hitman this story follows a simple path built around a singular goal. Along the way the plot tries to thicken but it's pretty transparent. In reality we don't sit down to watch movies like this hoping for drama we watch them for the action. There is enough of it here to keep it interesting but it isn't as slick as I had hoped. I thought that Mark Wahlberg was fine in the part but the dialogue felt borrowed and the connection to other characters in the movie was missing. I liked Mila Kunis as Mona Sax although she seemed just tad too young for someone in Mona's position but it was fine. Beau Bridges as BB? Nope, it just didn't work in my opinion. The ending felt unfinished, as though they didn't have anything left to say so that was it. I have seen worse so I won't complain. When all was said and done I thought that this could certainly have been better but I felt that its action based elements were good enough that I will give it another spin. I watched the Unrated Cut which adds 3 additional minutes on to the Theatrical version.
This film contains violence including intense shooting sequences, drug content, some sexuality and brief strong language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Max Payne comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.4 mbps.
This is a rather dark film that strives to recreate the look and feel of the video game. I haven't played the game but I have played many and I think that this video presentation does a great job in that regard. Blacks are deep/inky without compromise to delineation, and appear dynamic and velvety in texture. They look stunning when onscreen with mixed content. The beginning of chapter 5 offers a good example. The camera pans down a darkened street as a street light illuminates falling snow. The flakes are bright white and appear three dimensional as they drift slowly past the camera against the deep, multi-stage black background. Shadow detail is as good as I have seen and offers excellent depth of field and perceptible nuance in the various segments that utilize uneven lighting. The film doesn't make use of an extensive array of colors but primary colors (especially red), are punchy, bright and well saturated. Many scenes in the film use a stylized look compromised mostly of dark blues, grays, browns and blacks which does a decent job of conveying the film's CGI based elements. While these segments don't boast eye catching vivid colors they look stunning. Combined with the video's excellent resolution these scenes have superlative depth that captures even the most subtle elements seen by the camera's lens. The result is an excellent video presentation that features crisp high level detail, incredible three dimensional depth and rich, defining blacks.
This is a film that is tailor made for lossless audio's higher fidelity and this DTS-HD Master Audio encoding doesn't disappoint. This is a reference quality soundtrack that bristles with active surround sound, extended dynamic range, and prodigious, room filling bass that all makes for an engaging home theater experience. Right from the outset it was clear that this was an aggressive mix. The scene in the subway bathroom sounded full bodied with crisp detail, and definitive low level punch that augmented the impact of gunshots and the perception of lesser sounds present in the recording. The sounds of whizzing bullets, fragmented objects, large scale explosions and the resonation of gunfire were presented in a cohesive aural pattern that engulfed the sweet spot. I found the attention to detail regarding the placement of discrete sound effects to impressive. At one point I had to turn and look over my shoulder as I would have bet that there was a bird flying around in the back of my theater. There are several gunfire exchanges in the film that are worthy of demonstration material but for me THE scene that impressed me most was in chapter 24. As Max is hallucinating and falls to his knees there is a swarm of Valkyrie above him as the ceiling erupts in fire and swirling masses. You are going to want to turn this scene up but be warned that it may bottom out lesser capable subwoofers. This short but captivating segment delivers a wave of sound that comes at you from every angle to place you right in the middle of the action. Its effect is heightened by the presence of powerful, ultra low bass energy that is the kind that just simply puts a smile on your face. The other aspects of this soundtrack which include the rendering of dialogue, soundstage balance and transparent acoustics were top notch. This might not be a great film but it may be worth the price of admission for its technical merits alone.
- Commentary by Director John Moore, Production Designer Daniel Dorrance, and Visual Effects Supervisor Everett Burrell
- Picture: Parts 1 & 2 - totaling just under an hour
- (HD) Michelle Payne Graphic Novel - animated stills (13 minutes)
- Blu-ray Disc Exclusive: Bonusview PiP - Walk throughs and cheats, behind the scenes featurette, interview with Director John Moore
- Theatrical and Unrated versions of the film
- (HD) BD Previews - Babylon A.D. and Mirrors
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc - A standard definition version of the film that can be downloaded from a compatible PC to a portable playback device
- D-Box Motion Code
Max Payne represents another screen adaptation of a popular video game that as a movie fails to deliver solid writing and coherent direction. While it may not represent a well conceived, slickly directed action film it does make for a great looking Blu-ray Disc with Reference quality DTS-HD MA sound and a handful of decent extras that include Blu-ray exclusive content. I can't recommend this is a blind buy but for fans and those who are looking for a great demo worthy disc this one rocks.
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