The video game-turned-movie clobbered "W.", Oliver Stone's Presidential biopic, $18 million to $10 million. "Payne" star Wahlberg may feel some degree of gratification because "W." stars Josh Brolin, who hosted the SNL's Sarah Palin-appearance audience grabber.
But, when the dust settles, Wahlberg will be left with a money-making franchise that should keep him rich but far away from Oscar, which he came close to scoring in 2006 with "The Departed."
Directed by John Moore ("Behind Enemy Lines"), "Payne" is a "Death Wish" revenge story, where depressed detective M.P. (Wahlberg) wanders through rainand snow-swept streets and alleys of Manhattan in search of those responsible for the murder of his wife and infant child. He descends into a subterranean world of beautiful decadent women, pumped-up tattooed drug addicts and strange evil winged creatures. All this has something to do with a mysterious pharmaceutical company, for which his beloved wife worked.
The film starts with Payne plunging into icy waters. There, he hangs suspended ruminating about his brief life. We are led to believe that, like William Holden's character in "Sunset Boulevard," this is the end of Max Payne. Unfortunately, no. He bounces back to dodge more slow-motion bullets and blast the bad guys, much the way Keanu Reeves does in the "Matrix" movies. None of it adds up to much, except great gross receipts at the box office, which means there's a big market for mindlessness.
In these tough economic times, stay away from "Max Payne." If you want action, rent the latest "Indiana Jones" flick and save your money for gas and groceries.