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Remedy Reflects On The Disappointing 2008 Max Payne Film

by Kyle Hilliard on Nov 27, 2015 at 08:00 AM

Seven years after the release of the original Max Payne in 2001, 20th Century Fox released a film based on the property. It starred Mark Wahlburg as the titular Max Payne, Mila Kunis as Mona Sax, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, and Chris O'Donnell among other well-known actors. The film was commercially successful, but critically panned. It currently holds an abysmal 16% on the film review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. During our trip to Finland to see Remedy’s latest game, Quantum Break, Sam Lake (writer and creative director on Remedy's assorted projects) jokingly apologized for the film when running down the history of the studio. Despite the critical backlash on the film, Remedy does have some fondness for its existence. It was a big deal for a Hollywood film to be made based on a Finnish video game making it a point of pride for Remedy, even if it’s not very good.

Remedy actually sold the rights for the Max Payne film before the game even released. The offer came in for the rights to be purchased while the game was gaining traction prior to release and 3D Realms, Remedy’s publisher at the time, said it would be a good idea. “We were like, ‘Well, okay, whatever, I guess.’” Lake says, “But beyond that, we were not involved in the movie after that moment when that happened.” Production stopped and started on the movie over the course of the following years, and Remedy followed it in the news just like everyone else, completely uninvolved.

The film released in 2008, five years after Max Payne 2 released in 2003. Remedy had nothing to do with the script, the casting, the shooting – it was completely hands off. “I think that the movie rights were specifically dealing with Max Payne 1, not even 2,” Lake says, “So they had taken the game and they had taken the script of the game and made their interpretation of that in movie form.” Despite not being involved at any creative capacity, the members of the studio were still excited to see their franchise on the big screen and organized a local premiere. “There was a lot of interest and it was kind of a big deal conceptually that, ‘Whoa, they have made a Hollywood movie out of a Finnish video game,’ and there was a lot of interest. So we did kind of chip in to the premier thing and were there.” We won’t see another big, international Hollywood film based on a Finnish video game property again until the release of the Angry Birds movie next year.

“If we would have been involved, I think that there would have been a few different, kind of, solutions along the way,” Lake says when asked if he liked the movie. “But it was an interesting thing to see. Obviously they had watched the game really, really closely. I think that how it's stylized and how the locations are done and the actors chosen – on a visual level, I think that they had looked very, very closely.”

Remedy’s games have always been cinematic with a strong focus on character and story making good candidates for film adaptations, and despite the poor reception to Max Payne, Lake would not be closed off to another film adaptation of one of Remedy's properties. “If we do a movie again, and there's been big talks along the way with Alan Wake, for example, we would want to do it with more creative involvement from our side.” When asked point-blank during our rapid-fire questionnaire if Lake could write a better Max Payne movie. He replied, "Yes."

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