01/02/2009. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin
pub: La-La Land Records LLLCD 1080. 17 tracks 44:22 minutes. Price: £18.09 (UK).
check out website: www.lalalandrecords.com
'Max Payne' was originally an excellent video game on the PC, with a similarly impressive sequel making it onto consoles, too. Featuring gritty graphic novel story sequences like those of Frank Miller's 'Sin City' and bullet-time slow motion action stolen from 'The Matrix', the games followed a gruff ex-cop on a mission to avenge his murdered wife and child.
With a dark palette of colours and characters, a blizzard covered New York City and taut action against wisecracking gangsters, the game was a critical success. With a relatively intelligent storyline for its time, it seemed inevitable it would make the transition to the movie screen. The question, in the wake of so many terrible big screen adaptations of video games, is whether it could be a success.
'Max Payne' the movie came out in late 2008 with Mark Wahlberg in the lead role and John Moore directing. It would be fair to say it didn't match the quality of its source material and did poorly both at the box office and with critics. Like many before it, 'Max Payne' is another name on the list of failed game to movie adaptations.
The soundtrack to the movie is published by La-La Land Records, who also released much of the SciFi channel's TV soundtracks, including the excellent work on 'Battlestar Galactica' by Bear McCreary. This soundtrack never reaches that level. Crafted by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, the mercifully short CD is full of dark, murky background tracks with very little of interest to them.
That's not to say the songs aren't well made because they are very atmospheric. Much of the 17 tracks seem appropriate to the tone of a film like 'Max Payne' and yet utterly uncompelling when separated from their screen counterpart.
Most successful movie soundtracks ignore the mood pieces that make up much of the background work, focusing instead on the songs written to stand alone or those licensed to use from the music industry. Background mood music is there to serve a purpose, to create a mood for the visuals to work. Without that accompaniment, this soundtrack is gloomy and depressing.
Couple with a poorly rated film, there doesn't seem to be anything to recommend this competent but ultimately dull collection of music.
Tomas L. Martin
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