It's not unusual to have a video game follow up on the heels of a film, but now and then, the game precedes the movie. Max Payne, the theatrical release, is based on a third person shooter game, which should give audiences a pretty good idea of what they are in for. Nearly every minute of this production's runtime is hot with ammunition.
The story centers on Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg), a police detective who comes home to find his wife, Michelle (Marianthi Evans), and their baby murdered by a group of thugs. While Max manages to kill one of the drug junkies who attacked his family, at least one other gets away. Despite every effort to find the assassin, the perpetrator remains on the loose. The event profoundly impacts the young officer who transfers from his job on the street to a windowless office in the cold case department where he shuffles through endless files of now defunct investigations.
Unfortunately, his brothers-in-arms on the force are far from sympathetic to Max's change of demeanor. His move from detective to file clerk makes him the butt of too many jokes. But the sullen widower doesn't let that stop him from conducting his own investigations after hours by putting pressure on some of society's less than savory individuals.
However his activities come under scrutiny when the officer's wallet is found in an alley next the shredded body of a woman (Olga Kurylenko). Concerns for his mental stability grow deeper when Max's former partner (Donal Logue) is murdered after stumbling across a connection between the death of the woman and Max's wife.
Like so many of the games and scripts in this genre, Max Payne is all about taking justice into your own hands. While the unsolved murder of his family is used to provide the justification for Max's actions, the swath of mayhem and the endless number of shooting victims portrayed in this movie is pure vigilantism from the first shot to the last. Hoping to keep this mature-rated game from getting a similar ranking in the theater, which would make it inaccessible to teens, the moviemakers still push the limits of violence but keep the sexual content brief by having Max reject the sexual overtures of a half-naked woman. Added to the endless round of bullets are a barrage of profanities and drug-induced hallucinations that make this adaptation anything but family fare.
For gamers used to pulling the trigger, the bits and pieces of story line may also be tedious to watch since it's the filmmakers who have a grip on the controller in this big screen version. In the meantime, Max's ruthless efforts to find his wife's killer put a lot of innocent victims squarely in the line of fire.