- "He [director John Moore] was off doing his thing and I'm just kind of doing mine."
- ―Mark Wahlberg about making the film
- "We first and foremost wanted to satisfy the hardcore gamers and of course try to take it to another level. I definitely think we accomplished that."
- ―Mark Wahlberg
Max Payne is a 2008 American action movie directed by John Moore and written by Beau Thorne, based on the Max Payne series of games. It stars Mark Wahlberg as the titular character, alongside Beau Bridges, Mila Kunis, Amaury Nolasco, Ludacris and others. Although financially successful, the film received a universally negative critical reception.
The movie starts with Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) struggling to surface in a frosted river and then sinking, whilst unconscious, to the bottom, where several other corpses of criminals are set. He also narrates that he only believes in pain fear and death and not in heaven. He then speaks of the corpses at the riverbed and saying it is a mistake for them to be their waiting for him. The film then cuts to one week earlier, showing Max working as a clerk in the cold-case unit and his obsession with finding the fleeing killer who brutally murdered his wife, Michelle, and newborn daughter. Looking for new leads, Max then crashes a party run by his snitch, Trevor Duncan, where he meets Natasha Sax (Olga Kurylenko) and her sister, Mona (Mila Kunis). Natasha and Max go back to his place where she demonstrates her desire to have sex and even offers to act as Max's deceased wife. An upset Max asks Natasha to leave and while she is walking in a alleyway and talking to her drug dealer on the phone, she is hunted, attacked and killed by a mysterious flying entity.
The next day, Max goes with his former partner Alex Balder (Donal Logue) to investigate her murder. Alex then reveals Max's wallet was found at the crime scene and that he is the prime suspect. Back in his office, Alex discovers that a tattoo of wings found on Natasha's arm is similar to the one on the arm of one of Michelle's murderers, killed at the crime scene. He tries to call Max to reveal his finding, but in vain as he's answered by his voice mail. Max receives his message and rushes to his apartment, only to find Alex dead. Suddenly, he is attacked, beaten and thrown around until he blacks out, though not before Max fires 6 shots from his ankle revolver at his attacker. Max wakes up in hospital beside his mentor B.B. Hensley (Beau Bridges). Max goes to Alex's house to offer his condolences but is forced to leave by his wife Christa Balder (Nelly Furtado), stating that Max has always pushed away everyone who ever cared about him. Later, Max is then attacked and threatened by Mona Sax, who believes he killed Natasha, but Max convinces her that they are both looking for someone else. After storming into Alex's precinct and searching through his partner's investigation files, Max learns that a man named Owen Greene was the last person Natasha called before her death.
The scene shifts to crime boss Jack Lupino (Amaury Nolasco) who has become unstable and increasingly berserk due to addiction to the drug Valkyr. He gives the drug to another wing-tattooed junkie and shortly afterwards kills him. Max and Mona find Owen Greene's apartment but hear him screaming. Owen has also become unstable and hallucinated winged creatures are flying around him in an attempt to take him and kill him, due to Valkyr and backs away from Max and Mona towards the edge of the apartment, though not before saying referencing Valkyr and the winged creatures, saying that "they took her". He is then pulled by a demonic creature on wings and falls to his death, though in actuality, he simply thinks he is being pulled back and actually walks over the edge. Max and Mona go to see a tattooist who did Natasha's tattoos; when asked about the winged tattoo, he tells that it is the wing of a Valkyrie, the Norse mythological deity that carried to Heaven only those that died violently in combat. While Mona goes to ask about Max's past and the man behind the killings and winged tattoos, Max goes to find old work papers that belonged to his wife, discovering that her winged company logo matches the winged tattoos, he suspects that her company may be responsible for her death. B.B contacts Jim Bravura (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and tells him the nature of Max's obsession. It is shown in a flashback that Max arrived at his home and found the men in his house, one of which raved about angels taking his wife and child away, before he dispatched two of them, though the last one escaped through a window. Max revisits the house and experiences the flashback while B.B claims that Max has become crazed with the idea that a company member is responsible for the murder, imploring that he is brought in immediately to receive help. Max then arrives at Aesir Pharmaceuticals headquarters, Michelle's former workplace, to talk with her former supervisor, Jason Colvin (Chris O'Donnell). After brutally beating him up and even holding him at gun point, Colvin reveals everything. He explains that Michelle was working on a big military-related project with Aesir's CEO, Nicole Horne (Kate Burton) concerning the development of a stamina-enhancing drug for soldiers. Colvin also reveals that the drug only worked in 1% of the test subjects and the remaining suffered severe traumatic and realistic hallucinations about winged demonic creatures, causing severe psychosis and insanity. Colvin tells Max that everything he wants to know is inside an envelope Colvin has been carrying around, but that the man who killed his wife is going to try and have them killed. Max and Colvin attempt to escape but a SWAT team arrives, after being alerted by Colvin's secretary. Colvin is purposely shot dead, but Max manages to escape with the envelope, amidst a shooting spree, though not before being shot in the shoulder and having a brief encounter with Bravura.
Mona later finds Max in a abandoned warehouse, watching the video inside Colvin's package. It is revealed that Aesir Pharmaceuticals was the company manufacturing Valkyr for the military. It was a drug created for the purpose of enhancing a soldier's ability in combat and to control their fears. It is also revealed that, before becoming unstable and a rampage killer, Jack Lupino was a former sergeant who volunteered for Valkyr testing; in the video interview, Lupino stated that the drug replaced fear with peace, giving him the feeling of total invincibility, confidence, being watched over and "having wings". Lupino also says that he at least has suffered no side effects. Max then becomes convinced that he is the one who killed his wife. Mona tells Max that Lupino's lair is at Ragna Rock. Max plans to go their alone to kill Lupino and his men, even if such an effort kills him. Lupino is shown taking a vial of Valkyr and yelling in a battle cry, which he imagines as being a roar of a demonic creature. Subsequently, Max goes there and successfully kills all of Lupino's henchmen with ease. Max then gets attacked by Lupino, who shows enhanced strength, tearing the chair he put people on when he drugged them, out of the ground and throwing it several feet. He then comes at Max with his machete, easily pinning Max to the floor. He raves about angels watching over him and flying for him and for no one else. Before he can kill Max with the machete, he is shot dead by B.B. While leaving Ragna Rock with B.B., Max is knocked unconscious by B.B.'s assistant, Joe. Joe asks if he is to kill Max now, but B.B. just says to cuff him. Max is then showed walking handcuffed between B.B. and his assistant, who confesses he is the lead manufacturer of Valkyr and the runaway killer that Max has been searching for. B.B. and Joe then attempt to eliminate Max. He says that he felt like he a new person who could simply stop any problem he set his sights on instead of feeling weak and unable. This allowed him to use Lupino and the selling of Valkyr on the street to his own benefit. He also admitted that he also killed the baby. He says that he making him look like an drug-addicted suicidal by slipping two vials of the Valkyr drug in his jacket pocket and then attempting to drown him in a freezing river. Max attacks them and runs away, but is forced to jump into the water when he is shot at by B.B. and Joe. Max sinks to the bottom as we saw in the opening scene of the movie. He then dreams of the himself observing the murder sight. When he reaches the room where his wife and child died, they are alive and well, with Michelle holding the baby. He then hears Michelle say: Not yet, Max., causing him to abruptly awaken and quickly resurface, though he barely makes it out alive. In order to combat lethal hypothermia, he ingests the two vials of Valkyr that B.B. had earlier put in his jacket. The effects are felt immediately as he revives his strength and rage, causing him to hallucinate with the demonic winged version of the Valkyries. His hallucinations engulf the sky in a hellish inferno, which is also seen in Owen Greene's hallucinations, where he saw the falling snow as fiery embers. He imagines his yells to be a powerful and monstrous roar, showing that he is as successful as Lupino at feeling the drugs positive effects. Bravura calls in the FBI on the suspicious behavior of the police men that murdered Jason Colvin and tried to kill Max, causing B.B. to assemble his men to go to the precinct to kill the FBI and Bravura.
Before he and his men can leave the building, they are attacked by a strengthened and berserk Max who storms the Aesir Pharmaceuticals building to kill B.B. He dispatches many of the buildings security teams, though he does get shot again in the process. He also finds himself developing increasingly painful hallucinations, which give him the feeling of pain by intense sound, light and heat that the imagined growing hellish inferno and multitude of valkyries create. The inferno, which now is consuming Max's sight and a vision of Michelle and attacking valkyries crippling his mind, he is almost be killed by one of B.B.'s security team members. Mona arrives, saves Max and offers to hold the rest off until he reaches B.B., who has arranged a helicopter to evacuate him while Joe tries to blow up the rooftop access with explosives. Max also gets distracted by the inferno and winged creatures due to the fact he cannot stop looking at them. Mona fatally wounds Joe, but he still manages to blow up the floor he is on. The explosion breaks Max free from another vision of the valkyrie-filled, burning sky Max catches up with B.B. and, despite being shot twice, he shoots B.B. dead. Max then slumps near the edge of the building and dark, snowy, cloudy city sky is now clearing up and the sun appears shining on Max's face. He then experiences the same vision he did when he was drowning but it then continues to show him holding the baby and happily laughing with his wife. He again has a voice over, saying that he he is not sure about heaven, but he does believe in angels, referencing his wife and daughter. The film ends with Michelle saying "Not yet, Max."
In a post credit scene, Max Payne meets up with Mona Sax at a bar in bright daylight. There is no dialogue between Mona and Max, Mona just gives Max a newspaper article that has Aesir's CEO, Nicole Horne on it with the headline "Aesir Pharma Soars". Max and Mona give each other a look of pleasure knowing who he will kill next.
- Mark Wahlberg as Max Payne.
- Mila Kunis plays Mona Sax
- Beau Bridges plays B.B. Hensley
- Ludacris plays Jim Bravura
- Donal Logue plays Alex Balder
- Amaury Nolasco plays Jack Lupino
- Director John Moore has said that he tried to please fan requests as much and as frequently as possible.
- Mark Wahlberg revealed that he never played the video game as he didn't want to become addicted, and felt the script connected him to the story enough.
- When initially submitted to the MPAA, the film was given an R rating. Director John Moore then reportedly trimmed a few frames and the picture was promptly given the more financially viable PG-13 rating.
- James McCaffrey, the voice of Max Payne in the video game franchise, makes a cameo as the FBI agent that Lt. Jim Bravura introduces to the "real" police officer.
- The trailer for Max Payne is seen playing on a TV in the background of Ari Gold's office in "Entourage" (2004) - a show produced by Mark Wahlberg.
- It was shipped to some theaters under the title "Sour Shoes".
- The role of Jason Colvin was originally offered to Tobey Maguire.
- Early in the film, Max beats up three thugs in the Roscoe Street subway station. This fictitious station is the setting of one of the first levels in the video game, where DEA Agent Alex Balder (upon whom the film's Detective Alex Balder is based) is murdered.
- Max keeps most of his old stuff in a shipping container at a place called Gognitti's Self Storage. This is named after Mafia lieutenant Vincent Gognitti, one of the video game's minor villains.
- It is Olga Kurylenko's second appearance on a video-game based film. The first being Hitman (2007).
- The club where Lupino stores his Valkyr is called Ragna Rock, the same place where he hides out in the first game.
- The game designers at 3D-Realms were apparently unimpressed by the motion picture adaptation.
- The main villain of the video game, Nicole Horne, plays a minor role in this film. Instead of her, the main villain is B.B.
- This marks the third collaboration between director John Moore and composer Marco Beltrami.
- Due to the PG-13 rating that the studio wanted, John Moore filmed two versions of the two biggest action sequences in the film, one being the Aesir Swat Building Shootout and the other being Max Payne's attack on the Aesir building starting from the parking garage scene. John Moore filmed a version with impact squibs (seen in the PG-13 cut) and one with bloody wound squibs. Moore also stated that the parking garage scene during the filming of using the blood wound squibs was "one of the bloodiest shootouts he has ever filmed".
- Despite the games being based around bullet time shootouts, there are only three slow-motion sequences in the whole movie.
The "Motion Comic" trailer, attempting to present movie scenes using the graphic novel style of the games
- "Exclusive: Mark Wahlberg on Max Payne" on Comingsoon.net. Retrieved April 2nd, 2012.