Just got this from Fox. Max Payne is coming out real soon. And he's gonna kick your ass. Below is the final production notes for Max Payne.


Max Payne is a maverick cop – a mythic anti-hero – determined to track down those responsible for the brutal murders of his family and partner.  Hell-bent on revenge, his obsessive investigation takes him on a nightmare journey into a dark underworld.  As the mystery deepens, Max is forced to battle enemies beyond the natural world and face an unthinkable betrayal. 

Oscar® nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) stars as Max Payne, a man who has little regard for rules – and nothing to lose – as he investigates a series of mysterious murders that could be tied to the death of his wife and child.  But there are massive forces, both real and beyond imagination, that are conspiring to keep the devastating truth hidden – and Max forever silenced.

Joining Wahlberg in MAX PAYNE are Mila Kunis as Mona Sax, a beautiful Russian mobster and assassin; Olga Kurylenko (who stars in the upcoming James Bond film Quantum of Solace) as Natasha, Mona’s thrill-seeking younger sister; Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Internal Affairs Detective Jim Bravura; and Beau Bridges as Max’s mentor, B.B. 

MAX PAYNE is directed by John Moore (The Omen, Behind Enemy Lines) from a screenplay by Beau Thorne, a recent graduate of the University of Texas film program. The film is produced by Julie Yorn (Bride Wars), Scott Faye and John Moore. 

But long before Moore started pushing things to the “max,” the videogame “Max Payne” had its global debut in 2001; a sequel game, “Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne,” followed in 2003. Critics and fans lauded the game’s stylish choreography and cinematic nature; the game’s dark, edgy scenes and slow-motion gunfights played out like a graphic novel with film noir influences.  Few games translate well to the big screen, but from its inception it seemed as though the story of the hard-boiled cop out for revenge was destined to be played out on the big screen.

Says producer Julie Yorn: “The ‘Max Payne’ videogame was developed by people who were passionate about film.  From the noir-style cinematography to its characters and dialogue, the game had major cinematic influences and the material transcended the typical videogame experience.”

Nevertheless, the filmmakers faced formidable challenges in bringing MAX PAYNE to the big screen.  “You think the adaptation process is going to be really straightforward when there’s such a clear story and back story in the game,” says Yorn. “But when you get into it you realize that you have to find a way to make the film distinct and different from the game while still respecting its unique style and spirit.”

The filmmakers and studio entertained hundreds of story pitches until first-time screenwriter Beau Thorne came up with a take on the material that resonated with all. “Beau found a way to bring so much texture to the material,” explains Yorn.  “He not only captured the emotional plight of the main character, but was also able to create a world of illusions and shadows – a supernatural quality that had never been part of the property.”

The otherwordly elements added by Thorne include a winged demon that threatens Max and dispatches others to an unimaginable fate.  Drawn from Norse mythology, the demon Valkyrie -- grinning, lips drawn back over twisted fangs, eyes glowing red – represents a critical clue in Max’s pursuit of those who destroyed his family.  Throughout the story, the demon – or elements of it – permeates the action: we hear the thunderous pounding of enormous flapping wings and get a tantalizing glimpse of a pair of wings almost lost in the shadows.  The winged demon is an iconic image, and the filmmakers created other key visuals tied to the Valkyrie.   Graffiti featuring a “V” pierced with a hypodermic can be seen throughout the film, as well as tattooed wings that brand some of the key characters.

Using the game materials – including the cut scenes and the script – as a springboard, Thorne set out to come up with the foundation for the film.  “The game is very visually cinematic, but it also takes eight to twelve hours to beat, so there was way too much material and information for a movie,” explains Thorne.  “I tried to learn everything about what was in the game and then tried to figure out ways to simplify and streamline it. The challenge was to figure out how to stay faithful to the original material, but at the same time to propel it forward and make it work as a taut thriller.”

With Thorne working on the script, the studio approached director John Moore, known for his distinct visual style from his three previous features, to helm the project.  Moore worked closely with Thorne and the producers to shape the screenplay.

Moore likens the game-to-film adaptation process as wresting control from the player and asking him or her to sit back and let the filmmakers take it from there.  The use of subjective camerawork is an important element in creating a memorable moviegoing experience.  “You have to give movie audiences something exciting and kick-ass – and we thought the way to do that was to use the subjective camera – basically beating the crap out of it – and make you feel like you are Max Payne,” says Moore. 

To bring additional intensity and stylization to the action, Moore employed a special motion camera system called Phantom, which enabled a fresh take on the popular “bullet-time” extreme slow-motion process.  “It’s basically a digital hard drive that can shoot up to a thousand frames a second,” Moore explains. “I didn’t want to imitate the dazzling bullet-time, slow-motion work of John Woo, or of the Wachowski brothers in The Matrix, so we came up with our technique with this new system.  I think we got some exciting results, which you’ll see in the movie.”

Moore’s stylized and sometimes startling visuals bring an operatic quality that enhances the film’s mix of a revenge story, disconcerting supernatural elements, and a mystery that subverts viewer expectations.  At the same time, Moore insisted the movie have a realistic emotional core, much of which is conveyed by Max’s quest to find the killer of his wife and child.  He and his journey are defined by this traumatic event.

To that end, the actor portraying Max would have to convey the character’s toughness, but at the same time be accessible to audiences on an emotional level. The role was a natural fit for Mark Wahlberg.  “Mark came in with such a fierce commitment to this character,” says Yorn.  “He’s an intense actor with a great presence, but he’s also a father who loves his family, and he was really able to tap into the angst of the character.” 

“This is one of those roles where you cannot imagine anyone else doing it,” adds Moore of Wahlberg’s work in the film.  “Mark is so much in tune with the guy – the way Max moves, the way the guy looks – he’s absolutely flawless in his execution of him.”

Wahlberg, who came to MAX PAYNE immediately following dramatic turns in The Happening and The Lovely Bones, enjoyed the opportunity to return to his action roots.    “John Moore really let me push the action and the emotion,” says Wahlberg. “John…he really pushes the envelope.
“I love playing action, so it was kind of nice to get back into a big action film – where I can beat the crap out of someone in a room,” he adds with a laugh.  “MAX PAYNE gave me the opportunity to work on some intense action to a degree that goes beyond what I did in The Departed, Four Brothers and Fear.  In terms of action, Max is those characters times ten.”

Embracing Max’s no-hold-barred physicality, Wahlberg was also intent on bringing important emotional shadings to the character. “Max is one of the most complex roles I’ve ever played,” says the actor.  “It’s an adult, sophisticated and complex character.  Everything he does is driven by emotion. We learn that Max, now a burnt-out shell of a man, once had a great life.  He had a beautiful wife and child, both of whom were taken away from him.  And once that’s gone he doesn’t really see much hope for himself or for the world – he kind of gives up on hope and humanity.  

“There’s the easy way to play this character, which is very one-note, man-on-a-mission, brooding,” Wahlberg continues.  “But people are going to be surprised when they see how multilayered he really is.  Max is driven by emotion, and I think audiences are going to understand why he’s so committed.

Mila Kunis portrays Mona Sax, the beautiful Russian mobster who teams with Max Payne to avenge her sister’s death.  The role required an actress who had the ability to be tough – to be able to hold her own with Max Payne and be believable doing so.  Kunis’ casting was unexpected because she is best known for her comedy roles in the hit sitcom That ‘70s Show and the hit feature Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

“Mila just bowled us over,” says Moore. “She wasn’t an obvious choice, but she just wears Mona so well.  She and Mark have terrific chemistry; they are a great hardball team in the movie, which is so essential.  We needed someone who would not be just a fop or foil to Max; we needed somebody who had to be that character and convey her own agenda.   I think Mila’s just knocked it out of the park.”

For Kunis, the role presented a chance to explore new territory as an actor.  “I’ve always wanted to be in an action movie; I have a side to me that loves to kick butt,” she says with a laugh.  “Mona is fierce and feisty and not willing to play second fiddle to anyone.  I’d say that she and Max are very evenly matched.”

To help her convey Mona’s formidable physical and weapons skills, Kunis underwent an intensive training program.  By the end of her training period, Kunis made it seem like martial combat and weapons handling was something she’d been doing her entire life.  “It’s crazy,” says Kunis. “I had never fired a gun before and here I am playing an assassin.  But let me tell you, I’m really great at shooting guns now!  The physical part of this film has definitely been fun.  I did some boxing and a little bit of martial arts work.” 

One aspect of the character for which Kunis didn’t have to train was speaking Russian.  Kunis, who hails from that country, showcases her linguistic skills in a key scene in which she berates her troubled sister Natasha, played by Olga Kurylenko, another real-life Russian émigré.  Kurylenko, who stars with Daniel Craig in the upcoming James Bond film Quantum of Solace, and Kunis grew up in neighboring towns but had never met until they reported to the set of MAX PAYNE.

Kurylenko’s Natasha is a femme fatale in the classic tradition.  She is introduced to Max at a party and is instantly drawn to him.  But her beauty and seductive charms are lost on Max, who is interested in Natasha only for the information she can provide that may help him on his quest.   When Natasha is murdered after leaving Max’s apartment – and he becomes a chief suspect – his efforts are further complicated.  And it is through his fateful encounters with Natasha that Max locks horns with Mona.

Trying to help Max sort through the web of intrigue, mystery, violence and supernatural terror is B.B. Hensley, a former cop and mentor to Max.  B.B. now runs security for the huge pharmaceutical company Aesir.  Taking on the role is veteran actor Beau Bridges whom over a career spanning more than four decades, has portrayed a myriad of characters, showing different facets of himself and bringing authority and believability to every role he plays.

“The character of B.B. Hensley is vital to this story and Beau gives him validity,” says Moore.  “He has such an incredible body of work where he’s played an understandable human character, a good guy if you will.”  But like so much of MAX PAYNE, there’s more to B.B. than meets the eye.  Adds Moore, hinting at the character’s complexity:  “That we were able to get Beau to play B.B., one of the greatest ‘twist’ characters that we’ve seen in a long time, was quite something.”

Bridges says he immediately responded to the character. “B.B. has a mask on.  You’re really never sure who the real person is, whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy.  The style of this film is very mysterious; there are twists and turns and sudden changes in characters.  As an actor it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.”

Another character who surprises is Internal Affairs Agent Jim Bravura, a no-nonsense official who has taken a personal interest in Max’s case.  Famed hip-hop star Chris “Ludacris” Bridges portrays Bravura.  “Bravura is the one person in the film that you feel has a sense of what’s going on,” says Bridges.   “He knows there’s a story behind Max’s actions, and he’s determined to uncover the truth.  Internal Affairs guys aren’t usually the most likable.  I tried to make Bravura look like he could fit into that world but at the same time be an admirable guy.

“Bravura is strong at heart and strong minded,” Bridges continues. “He’s young, but he’s very wise and takes nothing from nobody.  I think that he and Max have a kind of unspoken relationship where they pretty much understand one another. They’re both very tough and can see past anyone’s games.”

Also taking on key roles are Amaury Nolasco and Chris O’Donnell.  Nolasco is Jack Lupino, a combat vet now ensconced in the drug underworld.  For MAX PAYNE, the popular actor, who portrays a likable prison escapee on the hit series Prison Break, imbues Lupino with a shocking and bigger-than-life ferocity.  “I was really intrigued by Lupino’s darkness,” says Nolasco.  “He’s beyond tough, but in some ways he’s a very sad character. He basically lacks a soul.  He was a guinea pig in an experiment – and something went very wrong.  In that way, he’s more of a victim than a villain.”

Chris O’Donnell portrays Jason Colvin, an executive at a pharmaceuticals giant that figures in Max’s nightmare journey of redemption.  Colvin is a pawn who is in way over his head in a high-stakes plot that has ensnared not only Max, but which threatens the lives of untold others.
   
Director of photography Jonathan Sela and production designer Daniel T. Dorrance worked closely with Moore to create MAX PAYNE’s dark and threatening world, employing light and shadow to create suspense, intensity and action.  The filmmakers utilize a palette of muted, de-saturated tones that they incorporated throughout most of the film, from sets and locations to wardrobe selections.  The muted color palette speaks to the film’s and characters’ neo-noir aspects – to their emptiness and isolation.  While harkening back to the classic noir of the post-World War II era, Moore and his team make it feel very contemporary and rich for today’s audiences. 

In designing the sets and selecting the locations, it was important to the filmmakers to not only bring to life the urban, contemporary landscape of a large city but to also incorporate the lesser-seen, gritty world – and “otherworld” – that exists in the city’s shadows.  “If we could have shot the movie in black and white, that’s how we would have done it,” says Sela.  While the marketplace makes shooting in black and white problematic, Moore and Sela pushed the palette as far they could, with hard light, long shadows, and very graphic compositions. “Everything was as monochromatic as possible,” adds Sela.  “We never used color lights.”

Max’s dark time of revenge takes place during the winter, in the midst of an escalating blizzard; the elements are brutal, but the cold takes on a character role in the movie as Max’s ally. “Max Payne is in a dark place,” explains Moore.  “There’s a saying in the Gaelic language – cóbhoh an dólra – which means that nature is understanding your mood, that nature has a sympathy for you.  We thought what better way to reflect Max Payne’s mood than to have everything dark or shadowy until finally, at the end, the sun breaks into his life.  The winter is his ally; this is a guy who hides in shadows, darkness envelops him everywhere.”

“The snow is a critical element,” adds Yorn.  “John Moore has used it to create a kind of epic, operatic feeling, in the way it interacts with Max and defines some of his actions.”  In a pivotal scene where Max jumps into a near-frozen river to escape his captors, Moore took advantage of both nature and the classic noir image of the abandoned dock at night – complete with cold, unforgiving waves lapping at the pier – to move the drama forward.  “Max is not afraid of the cold; he knows nature will actually help him by facilitating his escape,” says Moore.  “The bad guys balk at the idea; they won’t follow him into the cold water, but Max knows the winter is his ally because his heart’s gone cold, he knows what it’s like and can use it to his advantage.”

Max’s world is dark and stylized New York City, light years from the Big Apple usually presented on screen.  “It’s a New York minus a layer of reality,” says Julie Yorn. The filmmakers conceived much of the city’s look early in pre-production.  The decaying New York skyline and cityscapes would be dominant and omnipresent. “John referred to our New York as the ‘Ghost City,’” recalls visual effects supervisor Everett Burrell. “In Max’s world, the city has been so overrun by crime and drugs that it’s kind of dying from the top-down.” 

“The film is incredibly intense in terms of visuals,” says concept artist Chris Rosewarne, who worked with Moore to conceive many of these visuals early in the design process.  “There’s a lot going on.  But at the same time this is Max Payne’s Manhattan, which is a very lonely world.  Max is a very solitary figure surrounded by chaos and conspiracy.

“The one image I found most impactful is where we find him just sitting alone in the kitchen with the light streaming through the window,” adds Rosewarne.  “That, to me, is Max Payne.”
Another design focus was the winged demon, for which Moore wanted a vibrating, hallucinatory quality.  Whenever possible, Moore eschewed the use of CGI in favor of practical elements.  The creature’s wings, built in Toronto, were controlled by a special team of puppeteers.  For flying sequences, the filmmakers used a CG version, based on the practical wings and a sculpted practical head.

Principal photography on MAX PAYNE began on March 3, 2008.  Filming on the 50-day shoot took place in a myriad of locations in Toronto ranging from the subway system, to the city’s busy financial district and sprawling waterfront, as well as on the Cinespace and Toronto Film Studio stages.  A number of sites served dual purposes; for example, an abandoned food terminal building provided the backdrop for Mona’s hideaway, a lair, a tattoo parlor and the party scene where Max first meets Mona.  A derelict glass factory in Hamilton served as the interior location for Jack Lupino’s headquarters, Ragna Rok.

One of the biggest challenges for production designer Daniel T. Dorrance and his team was the set for the interior bullpen of Aesir headquarters, where one of the film’s biggest action sequences is played out.  In the scene, time seemingly stands still as a desperate Max must navigate a gauntlet of gun fire that erupts behind him as he makes an impossible run down the lane of death. Glass shatters, filing cabinets are turned into shredded metal, millions of pieces of paper take flight – all in a deluge of sprinkler discharge and falling bodies.

Constructed on a stage at Cinespace Studios, the massive set took eight weeks to build and dress.  It was then turned over to Danny White and his special effects team, which spent another week rigging the set with the thousands of exploding squibs required for the epic gunfight.  
It took a full week to film the Aesir “gauntlet” sequence as 1,280 squibs had to be reset for each major take; once the full load of pyro had been exploded, the unit would move on to filming smaller insert and establishing shots.  A swing gang consisting of 15 pyro technicians showed up on set at the end of each shoot day to do a full rewire of the squibs for the next day’s work.  At the same time, the set decorators re-dressed the set in various degrees of destruction.  By the end of the week, Max had escaped, the set was completely trashed, and the squib count was over 5,000, not including the additional 1,000 body squibs of blood and dust hits used on the stunt players over the course of the sequence.

“Anytime you’ve got a movie that has a lot of destruction and mayhem in it, you’re constantly trying to come up with original ways to execute the action.  The director, the cinematographer, the stunt coordinator, the special effects team, the producer . . . everyone gets involved,” says Moore.  “You’re constantly throwing out ideas, going over and revising storyboards and trying to design sets that will work with the action.  In MAX PAYNE our goal was to ensure that the stakes were raised by not only the story, but by terrific stunts.  That way, you don’t just make an action film, you make a smart thriller that everyone wants to experience.”