By John Gaudiosi LOS ANGELES, CA—Long before next generation consoles like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ushered in deeper, more cinematic videogame experiences, Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment and publisher Gathering of Developers introduced Max Payne to PC and PlayStation 2 games in 2001. The shooter became a hit with gamers, captivating players with its dark revenge story line and its film noir atmosphere. Producer Scott Faye (Venom) fell in love with Max Payne 10 years ago when he happened upon a render of the New York City detective at 3D Realms' E3 booth in Los Angeles. "Max Payne is as strong a narrative and character content a game has produced so far," said Faye. "I think other games are now moving in that direction, but clearly this was a defining game of its time." With a handshake and a promise to keep the integrity of the game intact, Faye set out to bring Max to the big screen. So why did it take so long?"That's a very good question," said director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines), who ultimately brought the game to life. "Maybe because there was intense satisfaction with it as it existed in its own form. I don't see anyone rushing out to make War and Peace, but it's a hell of a book." After handing out PlayStation 2 copies of the game around town and showing studio executives a video of the in-game cinematics, Faye found producer Julie Yorn (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and 20th Century Fox optioned the film. Faye said the film is a very truncated version of the game narrative. "One of the great strokes of luck with our executive at Fox was to bring Beau Thorne in as the writer," said Faye. "He was certainly the most diligent writer in terms of researching the narrative and character underpinnings of the videogame franchise. Why go out of your way to acquire an IP if you're not going to use as much of it as you can in the adaptation process?" Moore was brought in to helm the project. Although the director did own an original PlayStation that he used to play Formula 1 games, he couldn't get very far in Max Payne without dying. "I brought in a 17-year-old to play the game for me and I watched, which is a little like paying someone to fuck your wife for you," said the Irish director, who's always good for a memorable quote. Thorne's script attracted Oscar-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg, who said he wasn't even aware the movie was based on a game. "I saw the game after reading the script," said Wahlberg. "I didn't want to go into that whole thing — because there's a lot of baggage there — without seeing the game. It seemed like a no-brainer after seeing the story." Retaining the game's dark tone, Moore didn't speak to the game's creators, but he did play the game. Satisfying gamers was important to him. "I've shown the movie to some big fans of the game and they've liked it," said Moore. "Aside from the obvious things like the voiceover, bullet time and camera angles, it's the more difficult-to-grasp concept of the atmosphere. I'd hope to see a gamer come away feeling that the movie felt like the game." Actress Mila Kunis (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) was very familiar with the game's dark revenge them heading into the role of Mona Sax. "I played Max Payne when it came out, but I wasn't very good at it," said Kunis. "It came out around the same time as 007 and any game that requires you to move your head around, I'm not really good with. I'm much better at RPG games like World of Warcraft." Although Internal Affairs Investigator Jim Bravura is a 60-year-old white guy in the game, Moore, who had tried to cast Chris "Ludacris" Bridges (RocknRolla) in his last three movies; decided to give this pivotal role to the rapper-turned-actor. "I used to play the game," said Bridges. "I didn't play it as much as I wanted to because of course I was still very busy and on the road, but I definitely love the game and I'm telling you right now the movie is even better." Fox agrees with the actor. Max Payne has been tracking well in test screenings and the studio has invested a lot of money in both the production, which was filmed this past winter around Toronto (doubling as Manhattan), and in marketing (you've no doubt seen the commercials). "The fact is Max Payne stands out in the videogame world," said Moore. "Unlike say comic books where you have comparative super heroes recycled in different tights or capes or whatever. Max Payne is something unique that you don't find in other videogames. Do I think it will turn the tide of videogame movies? Maybe. Maybe it will be a better movie than past videogame adaptations." When you check out Max Payne at theaters starting October 17, make sure you sit through the closing credits for a bonus scene that sets up Max Payne 2. After all, there was a sequel made to the game in 2003 (Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne). "Because I enjoyed working with Wahlberg so much, I'd do it again with him, for sure," said Moore. "I personally believe he fits this character like a glove. He's having his Steve McQueen moment. He nailed it."
Let's make a movie about a game that's no longer relevant. Yay! Meh! I know, it was #1 at the box office. That's not saying much given the competition, not to mention it made only $11 million. I say only because this movie cost $60 million to make. Come on Hollywood! make movies about games we care about. We want a Gears or Halo movie. Don't take 15 years either. When we're on to bigger and better games.