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Finally, Payne makes an assault on the [[Aesir Headquarters]]. Killing everyone in his way, he again encounters Mona Sax and witnesses her get shot in the head. He then makes his way to the mainframe of the building where he disables any locks preventing him from reaching the penthouse.
Finally, Payne makes an assault on the [[Aesir Headquarters]]. Killing everyone in his way, he again encounters Mona Sax and witnesses her get shot in the head. He then makes his way to the mainframe of the building where he disables any locks preventing him from reaching the penthouse.
Payne takes down the remaining guards covering Horne's escape in the penthouse and on the rooftop of the skyscraper. As Horne is boarding an armed helicopter and gets ready to depart, the broadcasting antenna starts to collapse when Payne cuts the cables supporting it with his weapons and fires an [[M79]] at it. The falling antenna crushes and destroys the helicopter, killing Horne.
Payne takes down the remaining guards covering Horne's escape in the penthouse and on the rooftop of the skyscraper. As Horne is boarding an armed helicopter and gets ready to depart, the broadcasting antenna starts to collapse when Payne cuts the cables supporting it with his weapons and fires at it. The falling antenna crushes and destroys the helicopter, killing Horne.
[[File:Max Payne is Arrested.jpg|thumb|right|300px|Payne is arrested after his outstanding killing spree]]
[[File:Max Payne is Arrested.jpg|thumb|right|300px|Payne is arrested after his outstanding killing spree]]
The police arrive soon after in full force and take Max into their custody. Alfred Woden, with his immense political influence, helps clear Payne of any charges.
The police arrive soon after in full force and take Max into their custody. Alfred Woden, with his immense political influence, helps clear Payne of any charges.

Revision as of 18:56, June 16, 2012

This article is about the central figure of the story, you might be looking for the first game in the series, for the overview article of the whole franchise, for the film, or for the film character.



"The way I see it.. there're two types of people: those who spend their lives trying to build a future. And those who spend their lives trying to rebuild the past."
―Max Payne[1]


Max Payne is an American police detective who goes on a vigilant, rogue, nearly unstoppable, tenacious, and relentless killing sprees against felons, spanning a number of nights, all the while looking for truth to mysteries he finds in his life but mercilessly bringing death to all those who ever caused him pain. During his long and diverse crime fighting career, Max Payne works as a New York City Police Department Homicide detective and as a Drug Enforcement Administration undercover agent but abandons both posts when he sees the limitations of orthodox police work, instead preferring the chaotic, hot-pursuit-and-revenge-filled approach to extinguishing crime. With his criminal body count tallied in hundreds, Payne is responsible for single handedly crippling the Punchinello crime family, crushing Nicole Horne's Aesir Corporation, terminating the manufacture and trade of the drug Valkyr, and, along with Mona Sax, wiping out the mercenary and gangster army of the Russian Mafia boss bent on taking over the Inner Circle - Vladimir Lem.

Nine years later, after becoming addicted to alcohol and painekillers, Payne moves to São Paulo to work in a private security sector with his friend, Raul Passos, following the death of Tony DeMarco, son of the New Jersey mafia, Anthony DeMarco. Max begin to work in Sao Paulo, Brazil for Rodrigo Branco and his family; his brothers Victor and Marcelo, and his wife Fabiana. During that time, Rodrigo is murdered, and Fabian is kidnapped. Max set to rescue her, but fails. With the help of a young detective. Wilson Da Silva, Max reveals that all the events that happened during his time in Brazil, were set by Victor Branco and his right-hand man, Armando Becker, as well with the help of the Crachá Preto gang leader Alvaro Neves. With the help of his new allies, Max is able to defeat Victor's group, the Unidade de Forças Especiais, and destroy the man's plans. Max defeats Victor at Sao Paulo's airport, leading to the later's arrest. A week later, Max has arrived to Bahia in a vacation, when he hears about Victor's death.




Max Payne as a young boy.

Max Payne grew up in the 1970s. His parents were Jack and Helen Payne. The family was far from idyllic. His father, a Vietnam War veteran, showed the boy little affection, instead opting to "toughen him up." Max Payne remembers Jack suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, using violence against his mother and cheating on her. This led her to drink often and to an early death from unspecified causes in 1976. Since then, the young Max turned against his father. In one instance, he intimidated Jack with a toy revolver, supposedly shooting him in the head with it. Jack Payne died prematurely as well, in 1979, 3 years after his wife, leaving Max an orphan.[2]

Also, Max Payne's maternal grandfather was an important influence on the boy. He would tell the child mythical stories and comfort him in times of pain.[2]

Life until 1998


Max Payne and Alex Balder

Max along with Alex Balder.

Max Payne grew up to be a police officer, a detective for the New York City Police Department. At some point in his life, he met Alex Balder who became his partner on the force. Together they grew to be close friends. Their crime fighting efforts were good enough to attract the attention of media: there once was a newspaper issue with the front page headline "Hero Cops" that was decorated with the photo of the two detectives smiling together; their exact heroic deed is unknown, however.

Payne remained close with Balder after his partner joined the Drug Enforcement Administration. The two would play poker together from time to time. Alex would occasionally prod Max to come work with him for the DEA, but Payne used to decline, not favoring the most likely harsh conditions of undercover work he would get into.

Meeting Michelle

At some point in the mid 1990's, Max Payne met his future wife Michelle. Max saved Michelle from two robbers. After a short talk with the woman, the two begun to hang out together, untill they were married six months later, and went to Montauk on their honeymoon. Nine months later, On February 4 1998, their daughter, Rose, was born.


The Payne Family, 1998

The Payne family in 1998: Max and Michelle Payne with their daughter Rose.

By the summer of 1998, Max Payne has living with Michelle and Rose, is a Midtown South/Hell's Kitchen detective of the NYPD and has created a home and family he never had growing up - a house in the suburbs in Jersey, a loving wife, and a newly born daughter. In his words, he was living a true "American Dream."

The Payne residence massacre

Michelle Payne Dead

Max holds the recently deceased Michelle Payne

On August 22, Michelle and Rose Payne are murdered by valkyr-pumped madmen wearing green jumpsuits who break into the Payne residence. Max returns home during the invasion and finds his house in disarray. He kills the armed intruders, but is unable to rescue his family. All he is left to do is scream in anguish holding the dead body of his wife in his hands.


After burying his family in the Golgotha Cemetery, the widower accepts Alex Balder's offer and joins the DEA, seeking to bring down the traffickers and producers of the previously unknown drug (valkyr) that fueled his family's murderers. The Valkyr Case is opened.

2001: The revelations of the Valkyr Case

Undercover work

Undercover Agent Max Payne

Undercover DEA agent Payne downing his coffee

Approximately three and a half years later, in October of 2001, the members of the DEA catch first glimpses of progress in the case, and, when an informant links the Punchinello crime family of the Mafia to valkyr distribution, Max Payne infiltrates the gang as an undercover officer.

For two months, from October to December of 2001, Max Payne poses as a gangster, meets higher and higher ranked members of the crime family and tries to uncover the source of the drug. During this time, he is known to have come into contact with the Finito brothers and visited Lupino's Hotel on a regular basis. The highest ranking member he is able to get acquainted with seems to have been Vincent Gognitti. Max never manages to meet Jack Lupino, the original and main suspect of valkyr trafficking.

As a covert double agent, Max Payne maintains contact with only two DEA agents during this period of time: Alex Balder and B.B.. The two are also the only law enforcement members that have the knowledge Payne is undercover in the first place, a likely tactic aimed at minimizing the chances of any possible mole in the agency itself uncovering his identity and compromising the operation.

Roscoe Street Station

Max Payne Arrives at Roscoe

Max arriving at the Roscoe Street Station

One December night, characterized by a particularly strong winter blizzard, Max Payne receives a call from B.B. who, citing important news concerning Jack Lupino, sets Payne up an urgent and immediate meeting with Balder at the at the New York City's Roscoe Street metro Station, the Bronx.

The undercover DEA agent takes a metro train to the the station, but, once there, finds the atmosphere in it suspicious. A dead Transit Police officer alerts him to pull his Beretta out and Payne soon finds the area of the station filled with armed Mafia thugs who are eliminating any Transit Police officers on sight to hold the location and are acting as look-outs for an elaborate Roscoe Bank heist operation nearby. Max Payne engages the gunmen in firefights and proceeds to move through the station (both through it, and its old, abandoned and closed-off section) and the Roscoe Bank looking for any signs of Balder.

Payne eventually finds Alex Balder at Roscoe, but, whilst they talk, his friend is quickly murdered right in front of him. Max Payne then kills the last enemies at the station, and, with seemingly nothing more left to lose in his world, he decides to exact his rage and revenge upon the Mafia by going after them in what is turning to become the worst winter storm New York City has seen in a century.

It does not go long before Payne gets framed for the murder of Alex Balder and the NYPD, led by police chief Jim Bravura, initiate an intensive manhunt to apprehend him.

Hunt down Punchinello

Payne slowly moves up the criminal food chain, starting off with low ranking members, the Finito brothers, making his way to Vincent Gognitti, the Mafia underboss Jack Lupino's right hand man. Payne chases after Gognitti and, after a dangerous rooftop pursuit, leaves him bleeding in an alley after he gets the location of Lupino from him. After killing the fanatic valkyr baron Lupino in the Gothic nightclub Ragna Rock, he meets a hired killer named Mona Sax and they learn they are both after the Punchinello crime family leader Angelo Punchinello.

Max Payne makes a deal with a Russian mobster Vladimir Lem: by killing Lem's traitor Boris Dime at the docks, he secures a stash of weapons for his vendetta.

Payne then avoids Angelo Punchinello's trap at the Don's restaurant and eventually storms his manor where he kills his henchmen (including the notorious killers the Trio) and confronts him. Aesir Corporation's Nicole Horne and her Killer Suits make a surprise entrance into the place, capture Max Payne after executing Punchinello, and attempt to murder him with an overdose of valkyr.

The true enemy

Entering Cold Steel

Payne follows a lead to the booby-trapped Cold Steel foundry

Max Payne lives through his valkyr hallucinations and torment. Following his new and unknown enemy Horne, he enters the Cold Steel foundry and makes his way to its secret base, where he discovers the Project Valhalla files and the secretive tests led by Nicole Horne that were responsible for the deaths of his family. As soon as the base is destroyed, he meets with B.B., the backstabbing DEA agent who betrayed him and killed Balder, and slays him at the Choir Communications garage.

Alfred Woden calls Max by payphone and tells Max to meet him at the Asgard Building. Once thay meet up, Woden personally reveals to Max the existence of the Inner Circle and their wish for him to eliminate Horne without making any of her plans known to the public. Woden also reveals that he sent Michelle Payne, who worked at the DA's office before her murder, the documents about Horne and Valkyr. Woden promises to have all legal charges against Max dropped if he manages to accomplish the task.

Finally, Payne makes an assault on the Aesir Headquarters. Killing everyone in his way, he again encounters Mona Sax and witnesses her get shot in the head. He then makes his way to the mainframe of the building where he disables any locks preventing him from reaching the penthouse.

Payne takes down the remaining guards covering Horne's escape in the penthouse and on the rooftop of the skyscraper. As Horne is boarding an armed helicopter and gets ready to depart, the broadcasting antenna starts to collapse when Payne cuts the cables supporting it with his weapons and fires at it. The falling antenna crushes and destroys the helicopter, killing Horne.

Max Payne is Arrested

Payne is arrested after his outstanding killing spree

The police arrive soon after in full force and take Max into their custody. Alfred Woden, with his immense political influence, helps clear Payne of any charges.


At some point after his exoneration, Max Payne transfers back to the NYPD and works under the now-demoted lieutenant Jim Bravura in Homicide. In the unit, he gets to work with a talented detective Valerie Winterson. They solve murders together. Some of their successfully solved cases, such as the catching a certain serial killer, make newspaper headlines.[3]

2003: The Cleaner Case

In 2003, one rainy night, one of Max Payne's intercepted "shots fired" calls uncovers a mysterious group of armed killers posing as members of a Squeaky Cleaning Company, a visit he pays to the Russian mobster acquaintance Vladimir Lem reveals a brewing mob war between the Italians, lead by Vinnie Gognitti, and the Russians. In a series of nights of pouring rain, Max Payne is once again thrust into the center of rapidly unfolding and brutal criminal events in New York City.

Max's Surveillance Photos

Some photos made by Max Payne's spies

Mona Sax, who survived her gunshot wound in Aesir HQ, contacts Payne in his apartment to inform him they both have assassination contracts put on their heads. Their meeting is cut short by the Cleaners who invade the apartment building and the surrounding area with the mission to kill the duo. Sax quickly escapes, while Max, after fending back the hitmen, finds out he has been spied on and monitored by his attackers' faction for a long time: many surveillance photos of him were taken, his apartment's layout was mapped, and his phone conversations have constantly been recorded.

Burning to get some answers about the people who want him dead, Max Payne makes another contact with Mona Sax, despite knowing that she is a wanted murder suspect in his colleague Valerie Winterson's case. This time, Payne meets the female assassin in her hideout - the abandoned Address Unknown funhouse on Coney Island. There, the two agree to pursue a lead in Sax's contact and a member of the Inner Circle, Corcoran, who, according to Mona, would have the answers they need, as the secret society is involved in their predicament.

Max and Mona Upper East Side

Payne and Sax at the Upper East Side

They depart to the deluxe Upper East Side apartments but find the building already invaded by the Cleaners. Teaming up, with Mona monitoring the security system's cameras and Max Payne gunning the goons down, they search the area but find Corcoran already dead. While Payne encounters, fights and kills the field leader of the hitmen, Kaufman, Sax is arrested by the police forces, lead by Winterson, who arrive at the scene.

In the aftermath of the shootout, at the NYPD police station, both his superior Bravura and his Homicide colleague are furious at Max Payne for his cooperation with the wanted fugitive and Payne is soon assigned to desk duty while Sax is put into a jail cell. It does not take long, however, for more Cleaners, looking to execute Mona, to daringly storm the station via an underground parking lot which is connected to the holding cells. Max once again kills all the intruders; the jailed assassin manages to use the commotion to escape. Deciding that following the usual police procedure would not help him solve the case, the detective leaves the police station, looking to find Mona Sax again. Vladimir Lem unexpectedly shows up in his car and offers him a ride to Coney Island. Max Payne's actions at the station are presumed to have intentionally helped Sax escape, by the NYPD, and Payne is once again announced to be wanted by the police.

At Mona's hideout, the two fugitives meet and the long suppressed attraction they held for each other explodes in an intimate moment. They are suddenly interrupted by yet more Cleaner commandos who have followed Payne and barge in shooting. Max and Mona make a run for it but get separated. When the hitmen's attack forces are obliterated, the remaining Cleaners flee and Payne uses the opportunity to jump into one of their vans undetected, ready to track the criminals to their base of operations and take the fight to them.

The van arrives at a large area of the Castling construction site and Max Payne radios his location to Sax who quickly rushes to the location as well. The detective kills any thugs in his way and searches a condemned building rigged with explosives for any evidence or clues. He hits jackpot when, at the top floor of the edifice, he discovers dozens upon dozens of dead bodies stuffed in body bags - the opponents of the Cleaners that have already been eliminated and whose remains were now being dumped here to be destroyed.
Payne and the Condemned Building Explosions

Escaping the Castling construction site's exploding condemned building

Payne communicates with Mona, who herself is fighting Cleaners in the nearby construction grounds, to call the police to collect the evidence, but Sax refuses. One of the enemy goons inadvertently sets off the demolition charges and Payne is forced to quickly escape the exploding and crumbling building. Although surviving the blasts, the detective finds himself in an open field of the construction site, surrounded by the enemy commandos and snipers. Mona Sax provides covering fire with her Dragunov rifle from various vantage points and the two crush the remaining Cleaner resistance. The victorious couple has little time to plan their next move, as Valerie Winterson arrives at the site ahead of other police forces, whose sirens are wailing in the distance, and holds them at gunpoint. Protecting Sax, in the heat of the moment, Payne shoots and kills his Homicide partner but gets shot in the torso himself and loses his consciousness.

The detective is found by the NYPD men and brought to the Memorial hospital where he undergoes surgery. Max Payne does not get much time to rest and heal his wounds there, as the Cleaners storm the hospital looking for him. In vicious gunfights, Payne witnesses medical personnel, security guards and even his lieutenant Bravura get shot by the thugs. Finally fighting his way out of the hospital, he heads straight to Alfred Woden's manor where the senior Inner Circle member at last reveals him the person behind the mercenary army of the Cleaners who has feverishly been attempting to wipe out any of his enemies - the secret society's rebel Vladimir Lem.

Payne Finds Gognitti in a Suit

Max Payne finds Vinnie Gognitti trapped in a rigged-to-blow suit

Furious at the Russian Mob boss who has tricked and betrayed him, Max Payne assaults and kills Lem's forces at his club Vodka and thwarts their plans of getting to Vinnie Gognitti at the Italian gangster's used car lot. The detective finds Gognitti himself stuck in a Captain BaseBallBat-Boy suit rigged with a bomb and, unable to disarm it, or without any time to do it, decides to head with him to Mona's safehouse once again to regroup.

Already expecting him at the funhouse is Vladimir Lem himself, surrounded by armed guards and holding the remote detonator of the suit's charges. Threatened to be blown up with Gognitti if he does not comply, Payne surrenders and is taken at gunpoint to Sax's living quarters. There, Lem tries to sting Max by revealing him that Mona Sax, who Payne has been enamored with, was actually working for Alfred Woden and that the senior Inner Circle member was inadvertently responsible for his family's death as he leaked the Project Valhalla files to the D.A. where his wife had been working, which Nicole Horne later discovered. Stating that Payne would never let go of his pursuit for revenge, the Russian mobster shoots him in the head, knocking him unconscious once more. When Lem vaporizes Gognitti and leaves, the Address Unknown funhouse catches fire and Max Payne's motionless body is only saved by Mona Sax who was in the vicinity and braves fire and the dangerous crumbling installation to get to him. Although bleeding and light-headed, the detective rejects the female assassin's assertions he is in no condition to fight, as he designates the final location of their war with Lem: Aflred Woden's manor where the Russian plans to eliminate his one-time mentor.

Max Payne and Mona Sax at Woden's Manor

Max Payne and Mona Sax before their assault of Woden's manor

When the duo reach the antique manor, they find that the enemy commandos have already taken up defensive positions, demolition charges have been placed around the site, and the bodyguards of Woden have defected to Vladimir Lem's side. Nevertheless, they aggressively storm the building slaying any resistance they encounter: Payne clears the bottom floor, while he leaves the second one to Sax. Upon reaching the inner chambers of Alfred Woden, Mona gives herself away to Max when she appears to know the hidden switch to a locked door; just when Max is about to confront her about her employer, she hits him on the head with a pistol, sending him flat on the floor. Sax confesses to the detective her orders are to clean up the whole "mess" which has been happening, including him, but she hesitates pulling the trigger on Payne and, eventually, throws away her pistol, overtaken by her feelings for the man. To his horror, Max Payne then witnesses her get gunned down from behind by Vladimir Lem. Kneeling beside the woman's body, Payne gets an apology from Alfred Woden, wheeling in from his protective panic room in his wheelchair. When the elderly man is shot dead by the Russian, the the detective seizes the opportunity to jump and wrestle with the distracted mobster holding a gun. Lem then uses his detonator to set off some explosive charges, which send them both tumbling through the ceiling into the basement, and flees from the scene.
Max Payne in Woden's Manor's Basement

Before the final pursuit of Vladimir Lem

Simmering with revenge and holding only the Russian mob boss' Desert Eagle to start with, Max Payne chases after his target, killing the last remnants of his men and avoiding more explosions along the way. The NYPD detective corners Lem in a large area just below the external roof of the manor where a platform supporting and holding a huge suspended glass dome is located. When Vladimir Lem climbs onto the platform from whose protective cover he starts throwing bombs at his assailant, Payne eludes the blasts ripping apart the room and shoots the beams holding together the construction. When it collapses and Lem is exposed, Max Payne shoots and mortally wounds his arch-nemesis. The mobster falls to his violent death with the whole detached platform, and the detective returns to Mona Sax's dying body. Amidst the disturbed NYPD officers searching the area for survivors, Max Payne kisses the woman for the last time.

Leaving the NYPD

Despite killing Vlad, the public continued to regard Max with suspicion for killing Winterson. Knowing this, Max and Bravura agreed that he would resign from the NYPD with a small pension. Max remained in contact with his former boss until Bravura eventually died of a heart attack.

After that, Max fell into a spiral of drinking and depression that lasted nine years.

New life in Brazil

DeMarco's hunt


Max in a gunfight with DeMarco's hitmen.

"I ain't a cop no more."
―Max to Raul Passos, 2012.
In one Monday in 2012, Max hangs out in Waltons bar, drinking some alcoholic drink. He is then encountered by Tony DeMarco and his thugs. After a short talk between the two, Tony angerly rises a handgun into Max' face, after Max insults Tony's family. Max is then "saved" by Raul Passos, who makes the thugs flee out the bar. Raul offers Max a job in Brazil, but Max refuses. The two begin to drink along with a woman. A while later, Tony arrives to the place, and hits the woman. Max takes a gun and shoots the mobster down. Max and Raul then escape from the bar. The two go to Max' place, where Raul offers again the job. They are soon confronted by Anthony DeMarco, the Don of the New Jersey Mafia, and Tony's father. Raul runs out of Max's house and yells come on to him, Max manages to kill some of DeMarco's thugs but then another comes from the back of Max and tries to kill him, but then Brewer comes out of his house and shoots the thug with a shotgun and saves Max.

Brewer saves Max.

after that Brewer runs away and kill himself and some thugs with a grenade.

Max and Raul later visites Michelle and Rose's grave, but are soon attacked by DeMarco's goons. The two are caught by DeMarco, who orders his men to kill Max and Raul. Max and Raul manage to escape through the morgue.

Early works in Aruba, Panama and Brazil

In Brazil, Max meets the Branco family: Victor Branco and Marcello Branco, the brothers of Rodrigo, Fabiana Branco, Rodrigo's wife, and Giovanna, Fabiana's sister. One night at a nightclub, Fabiana is kidnapped by the Comando Sombra, one of the strongest gangs in the city.[4] Max manages to save Giovanna, but the gang flee with Fabiana.


Max Payne's Black Leather Jacket

In 2001, Max is undercover and therefore spends the game in typical street clothes: A black leather jacket, opened panther shirt, a white T-Shirt with a necklace and a pair of black pants. He is 6ft (183cm) tall.[5]

In 2003, Max is back on the force, so he's kitted out in relatively smart office suit but still has his trademark leather trenchcoat with a tie until he loses it in the hospital.

In 2012, Payne is seen in many different outfits. While still in New York, Max wears his traditional leather jacket, with a tie, a pair of jeans and stylish black boots. Later, Max is seen sporting a casual gray suit, while in another instance, donned with a blue bulletproof vest over his clothes. During most of the game, he now has a beard, and later is seen with a bald head, wearing a white undershirt with shoulder holster for his hand gun(s), tan colored cargo pants, and tan boots. Moreover, he can also be seen wearing colorful red or blue shirts while in São Paulo favelas.

Max had always kept himself in good shape at least up to 2003. He has an athletic build that fits him well in his clothes. With depression, alcohol abuse, and aging he is slightly overweight in 2012.


Payne with a Pistol

With a pistol

It could be said that Max Payne has lightning reflexes, very acrobatic, is a skilled hand to hand combatant, being both capable of disarming enemies whilst he himself is unarmed, and also being able to netralise enemies completely in hand to hand combat when nescessary. He is also in good physical condition, and is a skilled handler of firearms, capable of operating many handguns, shotguns, SMGs, assault or sniper rifes, and explosive ordnances. However, for the most part, he seems to prefer sticking to his trusty Beretta as his main sidearm.

Max's pain tolerance is also impressive, being able to take multiple ballistic wounds from enemies and still being able to countine to fight as effectively as if he was unwounded. When his wounds do become noticeable, he is able to simply take some Painkillers and be ready to fight once more. It is also apparent that Max has a, if somewhat limited, Healing factor, being able to recover a small amount of health after being wounded, although not enough to be able to completely recover from the damage of a wound without taking Painkillers.

He can also dual-wield single handed weapons and only seems to be able to hold two more and more powerful guns as he ages and gains more experience. (2 Desert Eagles by 2003, 2 sawn-off shotguns by 2012).

In firefights, Payne can launch himself into a shootdodge to minimize his exposure to an incoming hay of bullets and/or take enemies by surprise, especially around corners.


"You can be so uncompromising, fanatical about these things, Max! One of these days it's going to get you killed!"
Vladimir Lem[6]

Max Payne

Tackling insurmountable odds, Max Payne faces every situation with a 'John McClane' type with and a very dark sense of humor which joins his nothing-to-lose demeanor.

Max has a poetic sense of describing his actions. He does not believe his doings are heroic and he believes he should be punished for his actions. Max's pessimistic view on life and his inability to have fun is very noticeable as Vladimir Lem points out to Max in 2003.

Max, along with his dark humour, is also very morbid. In 2001, he tends to make jokes even in the face of danger - one example is the conversation between Frankie "The Bat" Niagara - whereas two years later he makes no jokes and is hardly ever seen with a hint of humor.

Max Payne pursues his enemies with deep perseverance, some even say fanatically.[6] No matter how injured he might be or how many laws he might be breaking, when he sets his sights on his target, he refuses to let go of them. If it means killing all the enemies that happen to block his way, jumping on top of a moving train, avoiding destructive explosive charges, whatever it might be that impedes serving his revenge Payne is not hesitant to overcome.

Follwing the events of 2001, however, Max seemed to have started to experience a more pronounced degree of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and depression that has been kept under the surface for 3 years after the murder of his family. The dark and dry humour in his monlogues are reduced during the events of 2003. His apartment was quite the mess. There was also a voice recording from Max's apartment phone that was tapped by the cleaners which shows Max calling a phone sex line to talk about the emptiness that he had been feeling despite divulging the truth and killing every major personel involved in the Valkyr case.

This is possibly due to the fact that Max no longer had an actual purpose to live for having fulfilled his vengeance. While he was undercover with the DEA, he had to keep up a good appearance and an obsessive drive. Alex Balder was also a dear friend and DEA handler who kept Max "relatively sane" for 3 years and he was murdered in front of him in 2001, no longer able to support Max.

In 2012, Max is retired from the NYPD and in complete depression resorting to substance abuse with alcohol and pain killers. Murdering Valerie Winterson and the death of Mona Sax have added more layers of guilt and sadness. Whatever motivation that Max holds on to in the third game is desperation and survival. Despite this he seems at times to display a certain sense of honour, even with his dark and melancholic perception of the world around him.


As a child, Max Payne was very much interested in ancient myths. His grandfather used to tell him Greek myths, for example the Odyssey.[2]

Payne would play poker with Alex Balder.

There is a framed picture of baseball players at the Payne residence in 1998. Max could therefore hold an interest in the sport.

Max may have played the piano at some point as he takes small moments through the events of the third game to practice whenever he comes across a piano and eventually playing out the "soundtrack to his life."


Max Payne used to smoke before 1998 but he quit soon after Rose, his daughter, was born, proudly telling Alex Balder he was doing this for the benefit of the baby.

Payne becomes an alcoholic by 2007 and also abuses painkillers. He can be seen smoking again too.


Max Payne's badge number at the NYPD is 8349.[7]

Behind the scenes

Max Payne is the protagonist of the Max Payne series. However, he is not the only playable character in the video games, as the player can also control Mona Sax in some levels of Max Payne 2.

Bullet Time

Max Payne's Bullet Time has no official in-story explanation, and is referred to in the game manual as possibly being Max entering a higher state of focus, or what athletes call "The Zone." During one of his encounters with Vladimir Lem, however, Max says something that could possibily related to Bullet Time. Being held by Lem at gunpoint, just before being shot in the head, Max says "Einstein was right. Time is relative to the observer. When you're looking down the barrel of a gun, time slows down. Your whole life flashes by, heartbreak and scars. Stay with it, and you can live a lifetime in that split second". That could possibly have implications on how the Bullet Time feature works.


"'s just like James Bond or Batman; if you have a solid character, you can make games and movies forever, based on these characters."
Scott Miller[8]

The character of Max Payne was at the very center of the development of Max Payne. The main premise of the game was based on creating a well developed, strong protagonist. The creators wanted to provide a clear backstory and a strong motivation to Payne.[8]


The name "Max Payne" is a play on words, indirectly suggesting "Maximum Pain". Another Remedy game character, Alan Wake, is also a play on words: taking his first initial and his last name reads "Awake", a reference to Wake's fight with the darkness.



Timothy Gibbs modelled for Payne in Max Payne 2

Due to the relatively low budget of the Max Payne game, Remedy had to use their staff in the in-game graphic novel scenes, leading to Max being played by Sam Lake, the head writer of the franchise, who gave him his trademark sneer look. For Max Payne 2, however, as this game had a larger budget, Lake declined the honor, and the actor Timothy Gibbs was assigned to imitate Max Payne, giving Max a more rugged, worn appearance.[9] James McCaffrey is the face model and motion capture actor for Max in Max Payne 3.

Voice acting

Max Payne is voiced by James McCaffrey. The actor was initially announced to not be returning to voice Max Payne for Max Payne 3, with Rockstar saying: "We need a voice that can symbolize an older, more mature Max Payne." When asked about a new voice actor, Rockstar said "we are pretty good at casting. Don't expect any major Hollywood names, but maybe minor names." Such decision proved to be highly unpopular amongst the fans of the series, who bemoaned that it was yet another radical move in a string of changes for the third game of the series (after the revelation of the change of the setting location from NYC to Brazil and the dramatic altering of the appearance of the protagonist). However, in May of 2011, Rockstar revealed that McCaffrey in fact will return to Max Payne 3.[10]

Film portrayal

In the Max Payne movie, Mark Wahlberg portrayed Max Payne.


Max Payne Statue

A 10 inch statue of Max Payne was released as a part of the Max Payne 3 special edition.[11] It features the character in a gray suit holding dual pistols and spent bullet casings lying around him on the floor. The statue depicts a scene from the story of the game.

Max Payne games' TV shows

All the in-game TV shows featured in both Max Payne games are based on the character's life, perhaps except for Max Heat 7.

John Woo

The black suit and tie Max is seen wearing at the beginning of Max Payne could be seen as one of many John Woo film references.

Xbox LIVE avatars

Two sets of Max Payne outfits were released as part of the Max Payne Xbox LIVE avatar items. They are the character's clothes with which he appears in the first and second games.[12]

Mentions in other works

  • In the Remedy game Alan Wake, multiple easter eggs referring to Max Payne can be found. One of the easter eggs suggest that Max was killed thirteen years after his revenge on Horne, that he was killed by a woman, and that he died in a city during the winter, likely New York. Two of the notes found by Alan Wake are read by the same voice actor that voices Max Payne in the games (McCaffrey), and might be references to the character. They do not appear to be part of the rest of the notes Alan Wake finds, which are read by another voice actor. For instance, the femme fatale that Max Payne refers to in the series is mentioned in these two notes.
  • In the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a bulletproof window glass could be found, with the words "Max Pane" written under it.




"Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present Max Payne. New York's Finest, with the biggest mobster bodycount ever. Dearest guests, prepare to die..."
Vladimir Lem[13]


  1. The launch trailer of Max Payne 3
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "After the Fall"
  3. A newspaper page affixed onto a board near Max Payne's desk at the NYPD police station, Prologue, A Binary Choice, Max Payne 2
  4. [1]
  5. [2]Max Payne 2; Part 3: Waking Up From The American Dream; Chapter VI - There Are No Happy Endings
  6. 6.0 6.1 "You can be so uncompromising, fanatical about these things, Max." by Vladimir Lem, That Old Familiar Feeling, Waking Up from the American Dream, Max Payne 2
  7. The badge is visible on the character's model, Elevator Doors, Max Payne 2.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Miller on Matt Chatt Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  9. [3]
  10. EDGE, "A Man Called Payne", May 2011. pg. 56
  11. "Announcing the Max Payne 3 Special Edition" on the Rockstar Newswire. Retrieved January 30th, 2012.
  12. "Classic Max Payne Avatar Items Now Available on Xbox LIVE" on the Rockstar Newswire. Retrieved February 17th, 2012.
  13. A Criminal Mastermind, Max Payne 2

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