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MAX PAYNE

Not having any familiarity with the video game series upon which MAX PAYNE ($40) is based, I have to judge the film on its own merits. In that stead, MAX PAYNE is like any other in the endless series of mindless action movies that come out of Hollywood every year. Still, the movie delivers just what one could hope for from such an enterprise, action, high production values, stylish slow motion sequences and blazing gun battles. Sure MAX PAYNE won’t be remembered at Oscar time, but if you enjoy hot buttery popcorn and some of mindless action… then you will probably take pleasure in this flick. Personally, I was more than willing to switch off my brain, and let MAX PAYNE take me for a little ride down action movie road.

Mark Wahlberg stars as New York City, police detective Max Payne, who has spent the last three years in the Cold Case unit, as result of the unsolved murders of his wife and son. A meeting with a former snitch introduces Max to Natasha Sax (Olga Kurylenko), who turns up murdered shortly after their initial encounter. Natasha’s murder also finds Max with an unexpected ally- her Russian mob hit woman sister Mona Sax (Mila Kunis), who wants to find out who killed her sibling. Of course, through the course of his investigation, Max discovers that Natasha’s murder is somehow related to that of his wife and son… with all roads leading back to a highly addictive drug called Valkyr, which leaves its users near madness facing visions of dark angels and demons. The cast of MAX PAYNE also features Beau Bridges, Ludacris, Chris O'Donnell, Donal Logue, Amaury Nolasco, Kate Burton, Rothaford Gray, Joel Gordon, Jamie Hector, Andrew Friedman, Marianthi Evans and Nelly Furtado.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made MAX PAYNE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Both the original Theatrical Version and the Unrated Extended Cut of the film are present on the disc. Regardless what one thinks of the film, the Blu-ray edition of MAX PAYNE looks fantastic, and delivers a highly impressive 1080p presentation. For the most part, MAX PAYNE is a dark movie, but I can’t say that any of its excellent visual quality is lost to any kind murkiness of lack of definition. Image sharpness, detail, clarity and dimensionality all go to the head of the class. Additionally, fine details, such as textures, individual hairs and imperfections in the actors’ skin all come across very well. Much of the time, colors tend to favor a cooler dark nighttime palette, and can sometimes be quite subdued. However, there are also warmer, more vibrant sequences throughout the film that are beautifully rendered. Blacks are pitch perfect and the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are pretty much first rate. The elements from which MAX PAYNE has been mastered are free from flaws. There is usually a light veneer of grain within the image, which maintains the organic quality of this excellent presentation.

MAX PAYNE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprise here, MAX PAYNE features an aggressive, a** kicking sound design that operates in that big action movie mode pretty much from the get go. Sound effects leap, pan whiz, bounce and explode all over the soundstage. Sure, there are plenty of quieter passages, but those prove highly atmospheric thank to a full integration of all the outlying channel. Fidelity is just great; the track produces a warm, full-bodied musical component, as well as totally convincing sound effects. The bass channel rocks; effectively adding percussive impact to gunfire, plus all the rumble that the track requires. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director John Moore, production designer Daniel Dorrance, and visual effects supervisor Everett Burrell. Picture is a two-part Documentary that runs shy of an hour and offers a fairly detailed look at the production. Next, we have an animated Michelle Payne Graphic Novel. Some Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements. There is also a Bonus View mode (requires a Profile 1.1 player) that offers picture-in-picture supplements entitled Walkthroughs & Cheats. . A Digital Copy of the film is also provided.

Taken at face value, MAX PAYNE is a fairly enjoyable, albeit mindless, action flick that will appeal to fans of that movie genre. Fans of the video game series upon which it is based, will need to dray their own conclusions. As for the Blu-ray, it offers a fantastic hi-def audio and video experience.

 

MAX PAYNE 


Max Payne [Blu-ray] (2008)

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DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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