Forty minutes of enduring the Xbox-inspired Max Payne convinced me it was okay to leave early.
Director John Moore's movie doesn't deserve a grade, just a "game over."
For starters, keep in mind that 13 minutes of violent and sexy footage were chopped from Max Payne to earn a PG-13 rating. That means the juicy stuff making the video game popular isn't on the screen.
We hear guns blasting and a subway train slamming into a bad guy but don't see any splatter. A seductress writhes naked on a bed under a satin sheet that looks suspiciously digitized. Shadowy demons attack and all we get are faked screams.
Moore manages to imitate the worst of video game aesthetics: a droning electronic musical score, computerized snow flurries so there's some kind of movement, and a series of levels to progress through in lieu of a plot.
Otherwise, it's a standard revenge yarn, with rogue cop Max (Mark Wahlberg) stalking the killers of his family. Of course he has a hottie accomplice (Mila Kunis, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), avenging her sister's murder, which Max is being conveniently framed for.
Boredom gave me time to consider how Max Payne might be improved: Rearrange the pixels of Wahlberg's face to lend him another expression besides grim. Hire Jeff Bridges to play Max's supervisor instead of his bland brother Beau. Give good actors like Chris O'Donnell and Donal Logue more to do than look guilty or dead.
Above all, don't ignore the gore. Sick fun is better than none.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.