Sunday, 30 January 2011

Max Payne

Sunday 30th January rapidly turned into woe Sunday after three good days and an overall good month as I developed into a good routine of swimming, art working, good television and good food and computer game play. My weight continues to be a problem which requires greater self discipline that has been shown over the past two months. I will leave the causes of the woe until later.

I have viewed several films, four of which I wish to write about, Max Payne, Ronin, Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll and A star is Born.

It is usual for a game version to be created of successful adventure movies. Max Payne is an exception because the award winning video game first appeared in 2001 and it was because of its success that the decision was taken to create the movie which made over 100 million dollars at the box office but was generally disliked by critics and in particular by those disappointed because of the significant differences between film and game.

I have not played or viewed the game but what struck me about the film is that while their are lots of action sequences, shoot outs and explosions the is an underlying serious story as a film noir in which the wife and baby of Max are brutally and horrifically murdered shortly before he arrives home from work as a police detective. Their killing has the appearance of a robbery and while he manages to kill two of the murderers a third escapes and is not caught. Max overcome with grief and anger for revenge takes on back room task of administering the Cold Case records, which could not be brought to prosecution but are stored in the hope that they be solved or the crime admitted to in the future. He has also created his own record store in a large container in self storage which eh has equipped with storage units and filing boxes similar to those I used to transfer my books and papers from my former home, Newland House, to here and where I still have between one and two hundred two sort out as well as using others to store created artwork project sets.

In the game Max is working undercover for a Mafia boss trafficking a designed drug called Valkyr. The drug has hallucinatory effects as well as enhancing abilities. The three individuals who murdered his wife were on this drug. In both forms of media Max is drawn to the Metro underground by a tip off which involves his first shoot out. This is not as good a lead as he hopes.

The video game is said to commence with Max on top of skyscraper building as police units arrive whereas in the film he appears to be drowning, we later learn in icy cold water as the action has taken place in below zero wintry conditions with heavy snow falling and accumulated and which adds to dark and dangerous atmosphere of much of the film.

Because the opening shoot out does not produce anything which progresses his search he calls on the contact who provided the information as he is hosting he is hosting a party at which the drug is being used. He encounters an alluring young woman who then has an argument with another woman to is disclosed as her sister and who appears to be part of armed gang.

In the film he takes the young woman to his home to question her but she offers herself sexually and he tells he to leave. She is then brutally murdered in a grim, stark area between buildings and Max becomes a suspect because his police credential are found among the body remains, having been stolen by the girl. A former work colleagues who investigated the murder of his wife follows up a query from Max asking about a tattoo on the arm of the murdered girl and he finds the same emblem in a photo a photo of the murdered wife.

He contacts Max and arranges to meet him at his home with the information but on arrival Max finds the man also murdered. This alienates Max from the police colleagues and the man’s wife who blames Max because of his obsession to find the third killer of wife and baby. Max is then taken prisoner by the sister of the murdered girl under the impression he is responsible for her death, Max is able to convince her to join forces and search of the killer who he believes also killed his wife..

When Max is in hospital recovering from being knocked senseless as he discovered the death of the investigating detective, he is visited by another former colleague and friend who is now head of security at the pharmaceutical firm where the murdered wife worked and which has given a scholarship in her memory by the female chief executive of the organisation.

Max breaks into the office of the murdered officer who was investigating the case and in the file of the girl finds a name which appears to be a lead and together with the sister they go in search of the man who they locate in a derelict building but who appears very frightened and falls to his death in some hallucination although as this point it is not clear if it is a hallucination or some sinister bird like creature which was also evident before the death of the sister. Max is always being watched by a man from the roof tops thus giving the possibility that the man can change himself into some form of flying terror. Max and the girl visit a Tattoo parlour to make enquiries about the design found on the two murdered girl. It is explained as a protection emblem in Norse mythology but this is a red herring or sorts because later we learn that the emblem is that of the company where she worked. I discovered the full explanation for the reference to Norse mythology in the Wikipedia article on the game.

The Valkyries in Norse mythology are warrior women who looked over the battlefield and took those who died in valour. In both film and game the drug Valkrie was secretly developed by the firm under contract with the US military because of its fighting enhancing energy and confidence. In Norse mythology those taken by the Valkyries would fight for the Gods in their wars.

In the film the contract was ended following test uses made in the 1991 Gulf War but its production is continued to be sold as a recreational drug and used by some of the former soldiers who are in the pay of those running the continuing Valhalla enterprise. The computer network at the Valhalla centre is called Yggdrasil which is the name of the tree which connected the nine world in Norse Cosmology. The firm where the wife worked uses the same motif as the Tattoo for its corporate logo and is called Aesir and this is the name of the primary pantheon of Nordic Gods. The chief Executive of the firm has the surname Horn with a horn used in the myths to announce the start of the apocalypse, the Ragnarok and the Gothic nightclub in the game is called the Ragna Rock. The great snowstorm in which the events take place is a reference to an epic Winter which precedes the Ragnarok. In the game there is also a character called Wooden whose surname refers to Woden a version of Odin, the Norse God and there are also other references. These are not referred to in the film which concentrates on the relationship between his former friend as the Security Chief who has become the responsible for the Valhalla drug manufacture and distribution and which the Chief Executive also appears to have knowledge if not direct responsibility.

When Max goes to the firm to try and find out the link between his wife and emerging discoveries he learns from an executive of company about the drug and its uses and that his wife had found out and expressed concerned. This is the major fault with the storyline because given that Max was a detective and his reported closeness to his wife, she would have immediately shared any concerns with her husband so he would have known about the involvement of the firm and made known the murder was intentional.

In the film he then goes in search of the Valhalla enterprise without the help of the sister of the murdered girl and her armed gang. This is the second plot weakness. It enables Max to make the discovery, there is much shooting and a confrontation with the soldier who has been trailing him and is used as a red herring in terms of the identity of the third killer. The soldier is responsible for the death of sister and his detective friend cutting them to pieces with a sword. It is only at this point that Max finds out that the third killer was his former colleague and friend and present head of security at the firm. Max is captured and is about to be thrown into the river weighted down when he breaks free and dives into the water as he appears suspended and dying or dead at the start of the film. However he overcomes the cold to get out and fully armed he makes his way back to the firm where there is the last spectacular gun fight towards the end of which the security chief makes his way to the helicopter pad calling for help to the owner of the firm who ignore his call. The main henchman of the security chief manages to blow up several floors of the building causing a major fire, but nevertheless the police who have realised the criminal nature of the firm’s security organisation manage to get to the top of the building where Max has fought out with the man he now knows killed his wife and baby. There is a moment when it appears that Max who is also shot appears to have died and joins his wife and child in their new dimension. However after the credits here is a scene with him meeting the sister of the murdered girl and she shows him a newspaper article where the stock of the firm is rising accompanied by a photo of the chief executive. Does this suggest the intention to have a sequel?

There is one aspect of the film which I have intentionally left out until now in that in the film the sister of the murdered girl is a Russian assassin. In the game She and her sister are the daughters/relatives of the Mafia boss and both are killed. Also in the game Max joins forces for a time with a Russian Mafia gang who are at war with the other Mafia organisation. It is the aspect of the Russian mafia which is the connecting link to my second film of the past three days, called Ronin.

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