The Max Pain Movie

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'The truth split my skull open, a glaring green light washing the lies away. All of my past was just fragmented still shots, words hanging in the air like balloons. I was in a graphic novel. Funny as Hell, it was the most horrible thing I could think of': the masthead of Ludus ex is taken from Max Payne, and sums up most of gaming experiences. Yes, Max Payne and its sequel are games I have never stopped loving. And they made a movie out of it.

The first thought I had when I heard of the Mark Wahlberg version of Max Payne, was that I must watch it. After the movie, as the credits began to appear, I did not know whether I'd even watched a movie. Wahlberg himself was good as Max and even kind of looks like the game version. The rest was big time BAD. The makers apparently were confused whether to keep the Chandler-ish noir dialogue; so they mixed it all up. They were also not sure whether to keep the game elements and the bullet-time; so they presented us with a half-hearted attempt. Finally, the wrecked the story, taking out important characters like Vladimir, Punchinello, Gognitti (whose name, however, appears - somewhat like an apology - on a signboard) and creating a half-baked role for Nicole Horne, one of the most convincing female villians in videogames. I quite liked the Valkyries (the birdie hallucinations) but after the first appearance, they kind of lost their point. It seemed that the creators were badly affected by the recent bank crisis and had to end their film somewhere midway. The 'pain' part of the game came out really well: it was a pain to watch.

As I started writing my thesis in 2005, I would tell everyone who cared to listen how Max Payne was such a great game because of its story and movie elements. If Agent 47 could come on the silver screen, Payne would surely be a major success.

Perhaps I wasn't wrong; seeing this film, however, one wouldn't believe me!

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