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"Vinnie Gognitti, A criminal mastermind?"
―Max baffled with Vinnie character

A Criminal Mastermind is the second chapter of Part I in Max Payne 2.


After the events at Vladimir Lem's warehouse resulting in the death of Annie Finn, Max decides he must tell Vlad about Finn's fate in person, and he drives to the former Ragna Rock nightclub, which Lem had renovated into a restaurant: Vodka. As he reaches the front door of the restaurant, he hears shooting and Max calls out to Vlad, and Lem tells him through the door that men are attacking him, and he needs immediate assistance. Payne decides to help him without calling for back-up, and goes around to the back of the restaurant, finding an entrance into the building.

Max shoots his way past several mafioso assassins and goes into Lem's office, overhearing a conversation on the phone between Vlad and his girlfriend. Shortly after exiting the room, Max finds one of Lem's men, Mike "the Cowboy", in a shoot-out with a few mafia goons. After taking them out he introduces himself to Payne, and the two of them team up to find Vladimir, making their way through the restaurant. Max and Mike make their way through the rooms of the building until they reach the former bar area of Ragna Rock, where a large group of Vinnie Gognitti's men have fortified the area. Once they are all taken out, Gognitti sends the last of his men with him to go take out Payne and Mike, but they are unsuccessful.

Max and Mike continue along the room and through a corridor, ending up in the booth facing the front entrance of the restaurant. Gognitti vainly tries to shoot at Lem, the Cowboy and Payne as he escapes, threatening Vlad as he leaves through the front door. Vladimir fills Max in on Gognitti's plans, explaining that the Mafia underboss is eliminating all competition in the black market gun trade and hinting that Vinnie is working with someone powerful. The detective questions Lem on his enterprises and their legality, but Vlad assures Max that he is no longer involved in illegal activities and as Max turns down the drink offered by Vlad, the chapter ends.



  • It is possible that Mike the Cowboy can die in this chapter, and if he does he be not seen in the chapter On a Crash Course and replaced by a random Russian.
  • The chapter is partly available in the Max Payne 2 demo version.


Max Payne Chapters
The American Dream Prologue · Roscoe Street Station · Live from the Crime Scene · Playing It Bogart · The Blood Veins of New York · Let the Gun Do the Talking · Fear That Gives Men Wings · Police Brutality · Ragna Rock · An Empire of Evil
A Cold Day in Hell Prologue · The Baseball Bat · An Offer You Can't Refuse · With Rats and Oily Water · Put Out My Flames With Gasoline · Angel of Death
A Bit Closer to Heaven Prologue · Take Me to Cold Steel · Hidden Truths · The Deep Six · Backstabbing Bastard · In the Land of the Blind · Byzantine Power Game · Nothing to Lose · Pain and Suffering
The Darkness Inside Prologue · Elevator Doors · A Criminal Mastermind · The Depths of My Brain · No 'Us' in This · A Sign of Her Passage · A Linear Sequence of Scares · The Million Dollar Question
A Binary Choice Prologue · The Things that I Want · In the Middle of Something · Blowing Up · Routing Her Synapses · Out of the Window · The Genius of the Hole
Waking Up from the American Dream Prologue · Too Stubborn to Die · On a Crash Course · A Mob-War · Dearest of All My Friends · A Losing Game · There Are No Happy Endings · Love Hurts · That Old Familiar Feeling
Part I Something Rotten in the Air · Nothing But The Second Best · Just Another Day at the Office · Anyone Can Buy Me a Drink · Alive If Not Exactly Well
Part II A Dame, A Dork, and A Drunk · A Hangover Sent Direct from Mother Nature · Ain't No Reprievement Gonna Be Found Otherwise · Here I Was Again, Halfway Down the World · It's Drive or Shoot, Sister
Part III Sun Tan Oil, Stale Margaritas and Greed · The Great American Savior of the Poor · A Fat Bald Dude with a Bad Temper · One Card Left to Play