Max Payne [2001]

Any film based on a first-person shooter video game should, as a rule of thumb, be full of epic shootouts on a level equal to Sergio Leone or the Wachowski Brothers, and in that regard, Max Payne is an unqualified success. Mark Wahlberg also lives up to the game's pedigree by brooding mightily as the title hero, a big city detective mourning the murder of his wife and child. Revenge is, of course, Payne's ultimate goal, and with the assistance of slinky Russian hitwoman Mila Kunis, he dishes it out in elaborate set pieces overflowing with gymnastic gun play. Viewers seeking just that and nothing more will get their money's worth from John Moore's film adaptation, and most likely be impressed by its fashionably gloomy art direction and cinematography. Those seeking a bit more than gunpowder and gristle will find Max Payne utterly derivative of a half-dozen better films (Christopher Nolan's Batman films, most notably) and violent to the point of cartoon absurdity. They may find some refuge in appealing supporting turns by Donal Logue and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges as diametrically opposed cops and Beau Bridges, who offers his usual roguish charm as Payne's former superior. --Paul Gaita

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