Featured Title: Max Payne
[[image:vs090120_maxpayne.jpg:Max Payne:left:0]]The film starts and the lead character is drowning. Dubbed over those images is some of the most wretched pseudo-noir dialogue I’ve ever had the misfortune to hear. Chandler-esque noir is a tough thing to get right, and this movie barely makes the effort. Of course, they producers aren’t going to kill the eponymous Max Payne mere moments after the opening credits roll. We soon find out that Payne is an ex-homicide detective who cracked after the murder of his wife and kid, and now has a desk job in the cold cases department. He’s a loner who has alienated his former friends with his obsession over solving his wife’s murder, and he spends his nights following junkies who thinks might know something about it, attacking them in a way that shows us, the audience, that Max is a Rogue Cop Who Can’t Follow the Rules.
So, it’s a pretty dumb movie. Not only that, but it has the gall to treat the audience like we’re the dumb ones. The contrived and predictable plot points are endlessly rehashed, and they even re-air dialogue we’ve literally just heard as a voice-over while Payne is driving in the rain, looking all brooding and junk. Of course, Payne the character is even dumber. He fails to make connections between an evil corporation and a number of drug dealers despite the fact that said dealers and their users literally tattoo themselves with the corporation’s logo.
The film has a few stylistically interesting moments. There’s a brutal fight sequence featuring Payne, draped in heavy shadows, and with each impact the screen flashes red. I liked that. The heavily marketed images of dark angels are interesting to look at, if ludicrous from a plot perspective. The drug that acts as the plot’s MacGuffin, Valkyr, apparently results in hallucinations, insanity, and death in 99 out of a 100 people who take it. So why are the bad guys manufacturing and dealing the drug? How can you profit from a drug with no repeat customers? Argh. Someday there’ll be a good movie based on a video game, but that day is not today.
Also Out This Week
Election is by far the best movie hitting Blu-ray this week. A subversive comedy from another Payne, Alexander, whose filmography as director also includes Citizen Ruth, Sideways, and About Schmidt. Election is about a high school election where a highly ambitious young Tracy Flick, played by Reese Witherspoon, annoys the jaded sad-sack teacher in charge just by being so goddamned perky. Broderick as teacher is brilliant as he tries to sabotage Tracy while his own life falls apart around him.
Peter Jackson’s King Kong arrives on BD this week as well. With its release and the Blu-ray release of The Bourne Trilogy next week, it seems like all of the major HD-DVD exclusives have finally transitioned to the winning high-definition optical disk format. Of course, only time will tell if the iPod generation even cares about physical media enough to keep BD afloat in an age where streaming video is becoming more and more pervasive.
Thanks for reading Add to Queue, GameSpite’s weekly round-up of US Blu-ray release highlights. Sorry, rest of the world; region locks are the industry’s way of saying they still don’t understand the Internet. Cover art courtesy of Amazon. Follow Levi Tinney on Twitter, or add him to your PSN or XBL friends list: VsRobot. You can also contact him via e-mail via levivsrobot [at] gmail [dot] com.