Ugh. You know, not everything has to be adapted into a movie. Someone should tell Hollywood about this fun fact. I love Monopoly (C.R.E.A.M.), but I’m more than happy to leave it as a funtimes party game for the whole family, and keep Gordon Gecko as Uncle Monopoly out of it. Was it always like this? Someone call their grandpa and find out if it was always like this. I’m willing to believe that it was always like this, but Barack Obama is president now, so it’s time for us to move forward as a people. We are mature enough as a nation and a culture that we should be able to say “Hey, how about we don’t make Diet Pepsi: The Movie.” Obviously, I understand why someone got confused and thought Max Payne was a good idea for a movie. We’ve all been up at three in the morning playing our Playstation 2 with Cheetoes-stained fingers thinking “This would be great if I could just lay here and didn’t have to move my fingers so much.” America is #1. Then again we’ve also all been up at three in the morning playing our Playstation 2 with Cheetoes-stained fingers and thinking, “They should make a movie about how great your bare feet feel when you rub them into the carpet, starring Zoe Saldana without any clothes” (all of us have thought this, without exception) and Hollywood is smart enough to know that they don’t need to spend millions of dollars turning that into a huge disappointment, so they’re not ALL dumb.

Anyway, Max Payne was a very bad movie. Let us talk about why.

Max Payne is about a cop played by Mark Wahlberg who is very sad because his wife and baby were murdered. Understandable! He now works in the cold cases division of the New York Police Department, chasing down leads to solve the mystery of whodunnit…tohiswifeandbaby. One night he meets a beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko) who he thinks might have some answers that he is looking for, and she tries to fuck him but he won’t fuck her because of sadness because in case you were not clear yet: he is sad. And angry. But the next morning her body turns up killed and also shredded into bits in an alley, and Max Payne’s wallet is there because she stole his wallet? Because he wouldn’t fuck her? Short con. Anyway, Max Payne’s old partner who he hates now because he still doesn’t know who killed his wife and baby and that is his partner’s fault, is like “Dude, your wallet was with this beautiful woman’s dead body and that’s not cool but so you should tell me what’s up” and Max Payne is like “I hate you still because somehow that supposedly helps the story along.” That night, the partner discovers that the beautiful dead woman’s arm had the same tattoo of angel wings as the dead body of one of Max Payne’s wife and daughter’s killers. He goes to Max’s apartment to tell him this, but gets killed, and when Max shows up he gets beat up. His father’s old friend from the police department is there to help him with his grieving. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Eventually it turns out that there is some connection between the dead lady and also his wife’s killer to the pharmaceutical company where Max Payne’s wife used to work, and also where his father’s old friend (wait for it) is head of security. The company was testing a military-grade drug that was supposed to turn soldiers into super-soldiers, but instead it just makes people go crazy, and also is highly addictive. Then the father’s old friend turns out to be the bad guy (there it is). Classic. He killed Max Payne’s wife and baby because she knew that he was secretly selling the dangerous drug on the streets, and I guess the baby also knew? The baby was a rat! So then he tries to kill Max Payne but not before telling him everything, because again: classic. But Max Payne escapes and jumps into the frozen river! And instead of waiting the literally 30 seconds it would take to wait and make sure Max Payne was dead, the bad guy just walks away. So Max Payne gets out of the water and takes the drug and now he is a super soldier and, overlong fighting sequence later, he kills the bad guy. The end.

It’s like The Fugitive meets Sin City meets Constantine meets garbage.

The movie, of course, was based on the videogame of the same name, and basically the same plot. Max Payne, wife and baby, friend betrays him, drug running, barf. The videogame was structured like a comic book, so the whole thing is just a messy pastiche of visual narratives. If modern comic books take most of their cues from movies, and a videogame takes most of its cues from those comic books, and then that videogame is translated back into a movie, you’re talking about a real of an experience.

What’s weird about this movie is that Max Payne the videogame was clearly trying to crib off of the film noir, hard-boiled detective genre. It was dark and sinister and violent. But it wasn’t supernatural. Max Payne the movie has all these angels and demons in it, which are supposed to be the mental manifestations of taking the drugs, but for half the movie it’s like “Wait, there’s monsters in this?” Who are these monsters? And let’s talk about this drug for a second: it drives people insane, and it is highly addictive? But if you’re a cop it makes you invincible? It is complete nonsense. Drugs are highly addictive because they trigger dopamine receptors in your brain, not because they just are. There is a cognitive “pleasure” attached to their use. If the drug just makes you instantly insane and terrified of demon angels, then you would not feel the need to score another hit of it. Also, when women take the drug, at least based on the beginning of the movie, the only effect is that it makes them look really hot? Super Soldiers in the BONER WAR. Sorry. But also this movie makes no sense.

I guess the movie looks kind of cool sometimes. Like, this is kind of cool:

But it’s hard for movies to be very surprising anymore. We’ve reached a visual plateau ever since everything had to basically be The Matrix. And it doesn’t really matter if your movie looks kind of cool if that’s just masking the fact that it’s terrible and makes no sense. Stupid assholes can wear cool clothes too, metaphorically speaking.

Admittedly, I did like how this movie dribbled out the clues like a tightly wrought detective novel, just nothing but teasing out the clues very carefully so that they were always surprising. Like, my mind was just blown when Max Payne went into a storage unit and found a cardboard box full of his wife’s old work folders, and realized that the company’s logo was an angel wing, just like the tattoos on the bad guys, just like the hallucinatory angel-demons everyone’s tripping on. I NEVER WOULD HAVE MADE THAT CONNECTION HALF AN HOUR AGO THE FIRST TIME THEY SHOWED THE COMPANY’S LOGO, AND ALSO THAT COMPANY IS BASICALLY A GENIUS AT MARKETING THEIR SECRET ILLEGAL DRUG?

That entire paragraph was SARCASTIC. I did not love how the movie did that. It was terrible.

Of course, there were a couple of good cameos. Like Marlo from The Wire:

And Katelynn from the Real World: Brooklyn:

Oh wait, what did I say? Good cameos? I meant :( cameos. But Marlo’s name is his motherfucking name, and even Godz have to put food on their families. And that wasn’t Katelynn. That was a joke.

Now, obviously, I don’t expect a lot of emotional depth from a movie based on a videogame, but you’re seriously going to have to do better than this:

Right. “Baby.” Got it. Boo hoo.

The thing is, videogames can be really fun to play, but they’re almost painfully unfun to watch other people play. It is one of life’s most boring activities. But at least in that situation someone is having fun. When everyone is forced to sit and watch while NO ONE plays, it is unbearable. I wish there was a cheat code to get unlimited not having seen this. Left-right-left-right-up-down-a-b-a-b-ugh.

Next week: Reign Over Me. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

*I just wanted to point out that I wrote this entire review without referring to the movie as “Payneful.” You’re welcome.

Comments (94)
  1. You also didn’t call it “Shitizen Payne,” which is what I called it when I walked out of it after 40 minutes in the movie theater.

  2. babelfish is the worst translating service on the internet – therefore this is a terrible movie…. i’ve never seen max payne, but that somehow tells me all i need to know.

  3. courtney  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 +5

    The way you described what the drug did to men and women sounds like some kind of porn flick and yea Boner War would be an appropriate title. Still putting in my suggestion of ‘How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.’

  4. I’m not necessarily nominating this, but has anyone seen the new Liam Neeson movie Taken? I saw it over the weekend and there is an absolutely hilarious scene where he (the protagonist) shoots an innocent and very polite woman in the arm to get answers from her husband. When it happened, the whole room burst out laughing and I immediately thought of the Hunt.

    • JD  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 +41

      That scene was funny…and freakin’ badass and awesome.

      But Liam Neeson movies should be out of the running, because 1) he can kill us all and 2) he’s having a pretty bad year already, time to leave the man alone. Also, he can kill us all.

  5. Please stop criticizing movies that star my namesake, or the guy who used to be my namesake, or the guy who was in that one good movie where he had a big wiener, or however we are supposed to think of him now. He has to put food on his children just like the rest of us.

    • Seriously, Mark Wahlberg with the right director (pta, david o russel) can do flat out perfect roles. With just about anybody else, he is fucking terrible. I don’t think there has ever been a leading man this goddamned inconsistent. You’ve done enough marky mark that I want to love you, why won’t you let me love you? Why?

      • Nuh uh. Marky Mark was not that good in I <3 Huckabees. So really what we’re talking about now is he can do flat out perfect roles as long as that role is Dirk Diggler and nothing else, ever, for the rest of his career.

    • Michael  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 +4

      Speak for yourself. I don’t have to put food on his children.
      Keep hunting, Gabe.

      • No, no. I meant that he has to put food on his children as well as on the rest of us. Let’s pray for a “The Happening” sequel (let’s not pray for a “The Happening” sequel).

        Anyway, just kidding, Gabe. Can you review “Rock Star” next?

  6. One of the few movies I shut off mid-way through. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Dammit, I made it through Domino, I made it through 30 Days of Night, I made it through Gummo… I could make it through you.’

    But I couldn’t and ate some bad Mexican food instead that wound up making me sick.

    I don’t regret my choice.

  7. I nominate Hallam Foe. Long story short: If your mother kills herself, stalk and then have sex with a woman who looks just like her and everything will be fine.

  8. i liked reign over me. is that weird? gabe, i dare you to change my mind.

    • Oh my god, perfect timing on Reign Over Me. I just watched it last night (it was a compromise rental with a friend with terrible taste) and immediately thought of it for The Hunt. It’s like Rich People Have It So Tough: 9/11 Edition.

  9. Yeah, this was bad (also read: “Hitman”). Even still, though – I can’t help but wonder if a “Manhunt” movie wouldn’t be awesome for the following reason: PIGGSY.

    • I agree, a manhunt movie COULD be great. but a max payne movie COULD be great too, provided they have the right crew and atmosphere. A movie adapted from a video game doesn’t by any means have to be a bad thing. But when youre talking about a Hollywood lowest common denominator piece of crap, it doesnt matter what the source material is. Also, the writer of this movie is the winner of The Hunt For The Worst Name Of All Time: Beau Thorne!

      • You’re right, but look at “Silent Hill”. It had everything going for it – great game, good crew, wonderful atmosphere & photography, passionate director – and it stunk. I was dying to like it, but it was just all over the place. They even explained Alessa’s history and motivations pretty coherently, but even that couldn’t save it from the suckheap. Gans probably shouldn’t have cherrypicked the best parts of the first two games, though. That might’ve helped.

  10. So, I just watched Doomsday last night… if you’re still in the mood for terrible apocalyptic movies, I think this one fits the bill. The entire script is a wtf? and the acting really, really sucks.

    • JD  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 +10

      Intentionally bad… it doesn’t count. Besides, it’s fun in a Z-grade, made in the 80s Italian-knock-off kind of way if you know what they were aiming for.

    • bree  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +2

      doomsday, while definitely high on the wtf scale, is great.

  11. Do The Happening next if it’s not been done before?

  12. I also like the idea of a drug that makes you insane somehow gaining popularity. “Ya wanna party man? This stuff I got is a guaranteed bad trip”

  13. Sticking with the videogame theme, I renominate Silent Hill. The whole movie would have won Best WTF moment.

  14. suitth5  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 +1

    I must continue to nominate the Postman with Kevin Costner and Will Patton. It is so horrific and overlong and the worst post-apocalyptic movie of all time. Its worse than Waterworld and that’s saying something.

    • Yes. Any movie where someone pees into a glorified Brita and then drinks it should be on Gabe’s list. As Dana Carvey said: “You don’t pee in a Mr. Coffee and get Taster’s Choice!”

    • Sometimes you just need to relax and learn to love some of the most ridiculous and overblown movies of all time. If you watch those movies without caring too much they are some of the most awesome movies of all time.

  15. zach  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 -1

    Son of the Mask
    Chairman of the Board
    From Justin to Kelly

    • Was Chairman of the Board (Bored) released in theaters? I loved that movie as a kid but I was an idiot when I was a kid. It really is fucking awful but I think it is a little to easy. I mean, it stars Carrot Top for christ sake.

    • someone doesn’t know the rules of The Hunt.

  16. I have just spent quite a number of minutes thinking about how mind-blowingly awesome it would be to see Marlo from The Wire play the lead in a romantic comedy. THAT would be new and surprising. But seriously, let’s get him some better parts, please.

  17. I choose to nominate a movie from 1997 called “Meet the Deedles”. It had paul walker and a plot containing smoking marijuana and ted bundy’s faked execution. Did I mention that this was a Disney movie rated PG? ‘Cause that’s important too.

  18. Last Chance Harry. Easily the worst Dustin Hoffman film I’ve ever seen. Easily the worst Emma Thompson film I’ve ever seen. Easily the most pissed I’ve been at a family member for making me sit through a movie I’ve ever seen.

  19. Same nomination as usual, but I thought of a more creative twist on it: SUCKS and the SHITTY. Get it? Because it sucks and it is shitty! You get it. I’ll be here all week.

    (Don’t worry I just downvoted myself.)

  20. War, Inc. (aka. Brand Hauser: Stuff Happens or Grosse Pointe Blank 2: FML)

    • that movie started off so enjoyable. . .then you know some producers came in there and were all, “we need an ending that isn’t such a downer, guys” and ruined the whole thing.

  21. k42  |   Posted on Jun 1st, 2009 +1

    Gabe’s first paragraph restored my faith in humanity and America. I think.

  22. Audrey  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +1

    You should watch The Invisible. It’s terrible.

  23. I can’t believe Baby was murdered!

  24. Joe  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 -4

    I honestly would like to see how you’re going to bash Reign Over Me. It’s not a great movie but it’s certainly not the “worst movie of all-time”. And Adam Sandler is great in it.

  25. Kevin  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +1

    Must re-nominate The Spirit for this, especially following Max Payne. Think Sin City, but with a very loud Samuel L. Jackson, a very irritating Scarlett Johanson, and a very bad narrative that makes no sense whatsoever.

    Oh and a woman who’s supposed to be a ghost/hallucination…or something like that.

  26. MMM yes this movie indeed sucks. I was forced into watching this movie on a 15 hour plane ride to Vietnam 3 months ago. My options were , Lars and the Real Girls, Dan in Real Life, Australia, and Things We Lost in the Fire. 15 hours of suck movies and I watched them all. Max Payne stuck out though. Walhberg’s acting was killing me, and then Ludicras came into the picture and all hell broke loose!

  27. I dunno, Gabe, I think us ladies are already super soldiers in the Boner War. We don’t need no pharmaceutical enhancement.

  28. Laurie  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    I remember thinking The January Man is one of the worst films I have ever seen.

  29. AP  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +2

    the new nicholas cage movie’ has a scene where he chokes an old woman in a wheel chair and puts a gun to her nurse’s head. amazing.
    thought you should know.

  30. TheJesusCodpeice  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +2

    Since this is a videogame movie, isn’t it pretty much a given that it’s going to suckle rancid donkey parts? Can anyone name one that didn’t? From they’re very conception they were awful. Super Mario Bros.? Not even the pre-pubescent lust I felt for Samantha Mathis justified another viewing of that cocaine-fueled Dennis Hopper vehicle. Resident Evil? It’s bad when not even a Mila Jockovich shot (whoops! I’m so clumsy!) makes me want to spend even another second watching a movie.

  31. gemma  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +3

    My nomination– Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock travel/love/make me want to kill myself through time in “The Lake House.” Yikes.

  32. SnailBiter  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +4

    Never seen this movie but the tags ‘Chris O’Donnell’, ‘Ludacris’ and ‘Videogames’ tells me all I really need to know. Plus Mark Wahlberg’s nostrils annoy me intensely.

    My nominatation would be Buster starring the bald-headed scrotal sack that is Phil Collins. He plays a train robber for god’s sake and it’s about as entertaining as watching an old man picking his nose.

  33. oh.  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +1

    Shape of Things

  34. A popular drug that makes you insane over time, crystal meth?

  35. Firsttimer  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +9


    This film was a limited release but only because Elizabeth Wurtzel–the horrifically self-involved protagonist and author of the awful best-selling book–said that she “felt nothing” when 9/11 happened and that the twin towers falling seemed like “a really neat art project.” The distributors pulled out, but the horror remains.

    Under the guise of being a poignant portrait of a depressed Harvard undegrad, the movie is actually about a narcissist with delusions of writerly grandeur (she supposedly wins journalism awards for writing stories about how much she wants to fuck Lou Reed) who alienates everyone in her life with her assholery. Featuring wretched performances by Christina Ricci, Jessica Lange, Michelle Williams and Jason Biggs and lots of pretentious Garden State-esque camera work. Embarrassing and painful.

    This *needs* to be ripped apart on behalf of anyone who has actually suffered from a mental illness. It is that bad a FAIL.

  36. Loved Jamie Kennedy’s show, but Malibu’s Most Wanted is a total failure of a movie. Dishonorable Mention: Accepted. But people love it which baffles me.

  37. Paul Riser  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 0

    I too throw The Postman into the ring. It must be seen to be believed. To make make you watch the beginning let me show you the end:

    That my friends, is a Worst Movie of All Time masterstroke. Checkmate, we all lose.

  38. Paul Riser  |   Posted on Jun 2nd, 2009 +1

    I too throw The Postman into the ring. It must be seen to be believed. To make make you watch the beginning let me show you the trailer:

    That my friends, is a Worst Movie of All Time masterstroke. Checkmate, we all lose.

  39. Gabe, I completely disagree with you in that Max Payne shouldn’t have been a movie. That’s all I’ve ever thought since I played the first Max Payne. That’s because the MP games are basically interactive movies. You’re got your typical “man seeks revenge because his family was murdered” plot, add in the gritty cop angle, dark humor and film noir, throw in some conspiracy and mix well with creepy-as-hell David Lynch-esque dream sequences (and the funhouse level). It would be perfect if done well. My only argument in why it SHOULDN’T have been turned into a movie is that it pretty much already was one… just one you could interact with.

    That being said, the game script was butchered beyond recognition and I agree that it should be here as one of the worst movies of all time. It would have been a terrible disappointment had I not seen other video game movies and known what to expect. What hurts the most about this one is that they could have taken the game script as-is and had a perfect movie. Oh well… Hollywood continues to go by the motto “If it ain’t broke, completely redesign it to ensure that it alienates everyone who ever loved it.”

  40. Hmm… apparently this film has some fans… go figure. I guess I never realized that the Scottish people are intrinsically cannibalistic – guess it’s time to give in to my genes :)

  41. Ok, so now that I’ve learned this was a videogame movie…then should it be in the hunt? I mean what’s the difference between that and a superhero movie? Hmm anyways I’m still throwing in my nom for Beloved.


    • I am embarrassed for Art School Confidential. I was told not to see it, but I didn’t believe my source. Now I do.

    • JD  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

      Oh man, I actually know a guy who hangs out with one of those pretentious old drunks like the one played by Jim Broadbent in this flick. Those guys are even creepier in real life than they are in the movie!

      For that alone, I second your nomination.

      But the movie gets an asterisk approving it for the Sophia Myles nudity

  43. Krista  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 +4

    So, this might be my favorite post. The babelfish joke! Katelynn from Real World! But for the record, there are certain video games I love to watch people play, like Bioshock, because my big brother never let me play any games and somehow I learned to like movie-style video game watching. So, kah-dooz to you. The End. Also, I still nominate Swept Away with Madonna.

  44. eriol11  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 +1

    It’s been five years, but the damage won’t quit–Phantom of the Opera.

  45. Can we also mention how this was supposed to be New York but:

    1. There were NO PEOPLE ANYWHERE.
    2. The few people who were around seemed to join in the delusion that tiny and adorable Mila Kunis was a badass because she wore eyeliner and boots.

  46. Color of Night  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 0

    Oh oh oh please review COLOR OF NIGHT
    Makes this thing look like Boogie Nights

  47. I’m going to suggest it again, as someone else already has several comments up, but DOOMSDAY is quite possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen. And that’s saying something.

    Also, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO. Oy, it’s awful.

  48. Aladdin  |   Posted on Jun 3rd, 2009 -2

    Just hit a nerve. Please, please, please nominate Lars and the Real Girl. I still get violently angry every time it’s mentioned and want to slaughter the innocent. It was the only movie I can think of that was both nominated for an Oscar and was the top of Richard Roeper’s Worst of list. Jaw-droppingly awful. I have no idea what Ryan Gosling was thinking.

  49. LMAO epic :D

  50. err well i have some suggestions for the worst movie…
    i thought that ‘waking life’ was really horrible and extremely pretentious..
    and that madonna movie ‘swept away’- i bet if you actually watched this you would be very very sad gabe..its really horrible,,
    i also really hate donnie darko, bt i guess that would be an unpopular choice..
    personally i really like ‘bad’ movies. but ‘horrible movies’.. well youre doing us all a favor gabe- you always bring me the lulz!

  51. Have you done National Treasure yet? Bangkok Dangerous?

  52. ModernMANdroid  |   Posted on Jun 4th, 2009 0

    TAKEN consider it; everybody was WRONG about this one. ‘shannon’ from lost runs around as the tallest, stupidest “17 year old” ever. “Daddyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

  53. Kelli_D  |   Posted on Jun 4th, 2009 +1

    Paycheck — how has that movie not made the list yet? A “Worst Movie Of All Time” list is not complete without Paycheck.

  54. i nominate that horror movie where jessica alba gets some sort of an eye transplant and ends up getting some serial killer’s eyes. end’s up seeing the same shit that this serial killer sees. i didnt see the movie, only the trailer.

  55. Bewitched
    Stranger Than Fiction
    Melinda And Melinda
    Patch Adams – one more Robin Williams movie won’t hurt you!

    What are the current rankings on WMOAT? Gabe, you should have a top 10 list of the worst ones so far. I personally believe that Southland Tales and Bicentennial Man are 1 and 2.

  56. Can’t wait to see “Reign Over Me” get skewered. While you’re at it just go ahead and add all movies starring Adam Sandler to The Hunt. Thanks in advance!

  57. i think there should be a no Nick Cage movie rule, it just opens too many doors

  58. MoonJewel  |   Posted on Jun 8th, 2009 0

    So, who is Zoe Saldana?

    Oh, and I would like to nominate Crazy/Beautiful. I hate that movie with a passion.

  59. I have a couple nominations:
    1) I would like to renominate Four Rooms by Quentin Terentino. Ugh, thats all i have to say.
    2) I got roped into Spiderman 3 on Encore this weekend and couldn’t stop watching it. Its a train wreck. seriously, “soo good”, whoops wait, no its awful.

  60. I actually think it’s fun to wtahc people play certain videogames. It’s fun to make snarky comments through the whole time, and we all know how much we love doing that.

  61. I think you might have to add a new rule: No movies based on video games. If you allow them in, Street Fighter is going to run away with this contest. It has legitimate actors including the late Raul Julia (actually his last movie), and that one guy who always plays the Native American bad guy in every colonial American movie and TV show. Just unbelievably awful. I’ve never seen Max Payne, but I can’t imagine it’s worse.

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