Max Payne (series)

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Max Payne
Max Payne logo.jpg
Genres Third-person shooter
Developers Remedy Entertainment (2001–2003)
Rockstar Studios (2012)
Publishers Gathering of Developers (2001)
Rockstar Games (2001–2012)
Creators Sam Lake
Composers Kärtsy Hatakka (1-2)
Kimmo Kajasto (1-2)
Perttu Kivilaakso (2)
Health (3)
Platforms Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 2
Mac OS
Game Boy Advance
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Platform of origin Microsoft Windows
First release Max Payne
July 23, 2001
Latest release Max Payne 3
May 15, 2012

Max Payne is a third-person shooter video game series developed by Remedy Entertainment (the original game and Max Payne 2) and Rockstar Studios (Max Payne 3). The series is named after its protagonist, Max Payne, a New York City police officer turned vigilante. The series' first and second installments were written by Sam Lake, while Max Payne 3 was primarily written by Rockstar Games' Vice President, Dan Houser.

The first game of the series Max Payne, was released in 2001 for Microsoft Windows and in 2002 for Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Apple Macintosh; a special version of the game was also released for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. A sequel entitled Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne was released in 2003 for Xbox, PlayStation 2 and Windows. In 2008, a movie adaption, loosely based on the original game, entitled Max Payne was released, distributed by 20th Century Fox, starred by Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis in the roles of Max Payne and Mona Sax, respectively. Max Payne 3 was developed by Rockstar Studios and released on May 15, 2012 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and on June 1, 2012 for Windows.[1]

The franchise is notable for its use of "bullet time" in action sequences. Max Payne, Max Payne 2 and Max Payne 3 were well received by critics, although the first sequel's sales were considered underwhelming.[2][3] As of 2011, the Max Payne franchise has sold over 7.5 million copies.[4] The film rendition, which featured Mark Wahlberg as Payne, received negative reviews but was commercially successful.[5]


Aggregate review scores
As of December 25, 2011.
Game Metacritic
Max Payne (PC) 89[6]
(Xbox) 89[7]
(PS2) 80[8]
(GBA) 78[9]
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (PC) 86[10]
(Xbox) 84[11]
(PS2) 73[12]
Max Payne 3 (PS3) 87[13]
(PC) 87[14]
(X360) 86[15]

Max Payne[edit]

Main article: Max Payne

Renegade DEA agent and former NYPD officer Max Payne attempts to hunt down the ones responsible for murdering his wife and child, as well as framing him for the murder of his partner, Alex Balder. As the story unfolds he gains a number of "allies"—most of whom are killed off in the sequel—including a Russian mafia gangster, called Vladimir Lem, and Mona Sax, a female vigilante who's out to avenge the death of her twin sister, Lisa, and manages to bring down the ring-leaders in a major drug-operation for a narcotic called V or Valkyr—after the mythological figures in Norse mythology.

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne[edit]

Max Payne has been taken by the police and is about to face charges for his killing spree. However, he was eventually cleared of all charges, thanks to his relationship with a very influential member of society, Senator Alfred Woden. A few years have passed, and Max has returned to work for the NYPD as a homicide detective. However, during a routine murder investigation he finds himself face-to-face once again with the fugitive Mona Sax, a woman he thought was dead. Max and Mona team up to solve the answers to Max's past that left his wife and child dead.

Max Payne 3[edit]

Main article: Max Payne 3

Max Payne has now left both the NYPD and New York itself and is now working on a private security detail in São Paulo, Brazil. However, when the wife of his employer is kidnapped by a local street gang, Max and his old friend Raul Passos join forces in an attempt to rescue her, igniting a war that will lead them to confront a large conspiracy.[16]

Film adaptation[edit]

Main article: Max Payne (film)

Early in 2003, it was confirmed that 20th Century Fox had bought the rights to adapt the game to film.[17] The Max Payne movie went into production in 2008 and was directed by John Moore. The movie was produced by Collision Entertainment and Firm Films in Toronto, Canada.[18] Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis[19] play the roles of Max Payne and Mona Sax respectively.[20] Beau Bridges, Chris O'Donnell, Nelly Furtado and rapper Ludacris have roles as B.B. Hensley, Jason Colvin, Christa Balder and Jim Bravura respectively.[21] On July 10, 2008, an official teaser trailer was released, featuring an instrumental version of the Marilyn Manson song, "If I Was Your Vampire".[22] The film was released to theaters in the USA on October 17, 2008 with a PG-13 rating.[23] While it was ranked first on its opening weekend, grossing US$18 million at the box office,[24] the film received mainly negative reviews, having a 16% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 129 reviews.[25]

Fan films[edit]

Fan-made short films include Max Payne: Hero (Chris Chen, 2003)[26] and Max Payne: The Beginning of the End (Zapruder Pictures Production, 2006).

There is an independent movie project Payne and Redemption which has been in production for years and currently continues.[27] On April 2008, 20th Century Fox sent a letter to writer and director Fergle Gibson, asking for the immediate "cease and desist" of his work. Due to the possibility of having the film studio begin legal actions against him for the non consented use of the brand Max Payne, he decided to take out the name of the character from the title and movie plot.

Another new fan short film Max Payne: Valhalla was released in May 2012. This project was financed by crowdfunding.[28]


Main characters[edit]

  • Det. Max Payne – Primary protagonist of the series, Max is initially a New York City police officer. In Max Payne, following the murder of his wife and child by Valkyr junkies, Max transfers to the DEA and goes undercover in the Punchinello Mafia family in order to monitor the trafficking of Valkyr. Two months into his investigation, Max is framed for the murder of Alex Balder, a fellow DEA agent. The NYPD issues an APB for Max and heavily pursues him, forcing him to become a fugitive while in search of the truth behind Valkyr and the murder of his family. In the first game, Max was portrayed by Sam Lake. In Max Payne 2, set two years after the original game, Max is an NYPD detective investigating a series of murders by the group of contract killers called the Cleaners and becomes romantically involved with Mona Sax as they uncover a conspiracy. In the film he is portrayed by Mark Wahlberg. In Max Payne 3, Max is retired and a broken man, addicted to painkillers and alcohol after the tragic events of nine years before. Max is offered a job to work security for a wealthy family in São Paulo, Brazil by former fellow cop Raul Passos, but all hell breaks loose when the wife of an estate mogul is kidnapped by a local street gang, forcing Max to find her and unravel the events that follow.
  • Lt. Jim Bravura – In Max Payne, he is the deputy chief of police, and leads the NYPD in pursuit of Payne after he becomes a fugitive. He managed to capture Max with the NYPD ESU unit. Two years later, he was self-demoted to the rank of Lt., since he was unable to hold the job, and serves as Payne's superior in Homicide. In the film, he is portrayed by Ludacris as a much younger Internal Affairs detective. Although his status is unknown at the end of Max Payne 2 - he is last seen critically injured in hospital - it was revealed in the comic series that predates Max Payne 3 that he survived the events of Max Payne 2, thus making him one of two main characters to survive the ending of that game (three in the hardest difficulty). However, he died of heart failure prior to the events of Max Payne 3, as also revealed in the comics.
  • Vinnie Gognitti – Vinnie is a mobster in the Punchinello family, and serves as the secondary antagonist in the first and second games. In Max Payne he has a rank of a Capo, and is Mafia Captain Jack Lupino's lieutenant. He is depicted as intelligent but cowardly, with a penchant for abusing sexual partners that include underage call girls. Payne wounds him and chases him through the streets to interrogate him regarding Jack Lupino's whereabouts, and leaves him alive. In Max Payne 2 he has ascended to the rank of underboss, due to the high number of losses in the family in the first game, which left him as the de facto leader of the remaining Punchinello mob. He is less threatening this time around, and is again at war with the Russian mob. He is killed by Vladimir Lem, who detonated a bomb located in a "Captain Baseball Bat Boy" costume that Gognitti was wearing at the time.
  • Vladimir Lem – Vlad is a suave, old-fashioned Russian mafioso and Woden's protégé. In Max Payne he is at war with the Mafia, outnumbered and outgunned, yet still manages to strike back at Jack Lupino. He forges a deal with Payne to gain possession of a freighter full of military-grade weaponry that had been seized by Payne's adversary, Don Punchinello. During the two years following Punchinello's death, he has ascended to the top, becoming a powerful Russian Mafia leader, and even bought Jack Lupino's club, the Ragna Rok, turning it into a fancy restaurant called the Vodka. He also stopped wearing a military outfit and started wearing suits. He is the primary antagonist of the second game, and is killed by Payne in Woden's mansion, after he had already killed Alfred Woden and mortally wounded Mona Sax. Marko Saaresto, vocalist of the Finnish rock band Poets of The Fall, serves as the model for the character in the first game.
  • Michelle Payne - Max's murdered wife, she appears in the dream sequences of the game. Her death in the game's prologue, along with that of their daughter, is the source of Max's grief, and the reason for his determination in uncovering the truth during the course of the game. It was revealed that she was killed on Horne's orders because she was accidentally sent the file about the Project Valhalla that Horne was running. Later on, Vladimir Lem reveals to Max that Woden sent the file to her because of her job as an assistant to the D.A, thus making Woden the reason of her death.
  • Mona Sax – Mona is a hired killer, the secondary protagonist in the series, and a playable character in the second game. In Max Payne, she first encounters Payne after he has killed Jack Lupino. She laces his drink with a sedative and leaves him for the Mafia to forcibly interrogate him. They meet up again later while she's looking to avenge the murder of her sister. However, she is shot and assumed dead. In Max Payne 2, Payne encounters her while investigating contract murders. They become romantically involved whilst investigating a conspiracy; however, in Max Payne 3 it is revealed that Payne regrets their affair. In the conclusion of Max Payne 2 she was killed, leaving Payne aggrieved in the first two difficulties of the game, but survives in the hardest difficulty (making her one of three main characters to survive both of the first two games). However, it was revealed in the Max Payne 3 precursor comics that the first ending is the canonical one, and she is therefore deceased by the time the third game takes place. In the film she is portrayed by Mila Kunis.
  • Alfred Woden – A one-eyed U.S. Senator. In Max Payne he is presented as a high-ranking member of the Inner Circle, and agrees to see that Payne avoid prosecution for the crimes he has been framed for should he neutralize a common enemy (Nicole Horne). He is the sole survivor of inner circle meeting massacre in the first game. In Max Payne 2 he returns, now terminally ill with cancer and a wheelchair user, and is embroiled in the conspiracy around which the game centers. He is killed by Vladimir Lem after confronting Lem outside the panic room of his mansion.

Max Payne characters[edit]

  • Alex Balder – Another DEA agent and Max's best friend. He grew up with Max, and while Max joined the NYPD, Alex joined the DEA and became one of their top agents. He was betrayed and killed by B.B Hensley himself.
  • Candy Dawn - A prostitute who works for the Punchinello family by obtaining blackmail evidence against her wealthy clients. Payne comes across her with Rico Muerte and both are killed by him in the subsequent gunfight. She was revealed that she, over Muerte, was employed by Horne to blackmail Woden into silence since she was videotaping her and Wooden in the act.
  • Boris Dime - One of Lem's former Capos who defected to the Punchinello family. Although working for Punchinello, he may also have had some allegiances with Nicole Horne, since he had a shipment of guns on his boat and some guns were provided for Rico Muerte to assassinate the New York Mayor, but the hit could not be performed since Rico Muerte was killed by Payne. He is killed by Payne on the ship.
  • Joey Finito - One of the Finito brothers who is a subordinate of Gognitti within the Punchinello mob. He is killed, along with his brother, during a confrontation with Payne.
  • Virgilio Finito - One of the Finito brothers who is a subordinate of Gognitti within the Punchinello mob. He is killed, along with his brother, during a confrontation with Payne.
  • B.B. Hensley – A corrupt DEA agent and a former friend of Max and Alex. Receiving payouts from Horne, he sends Max to meet agent Alex Balder at the train station and then shoots Balder dead, framing Max for his murder. He eventually meets Max, who has determined his treachery, and is killed in the subsequent confrontation. He is the primary antagonist in the film adaptation of the game.
  • Nicole Horne – A business tycoon and the key figure behind Project Valhala, initiated around the time of Operation Desert Storm to develop drugs to enhance morale and stamina, when the project failed to yield the desired results, she refused to shut it down, and years later began distributing it as a designer drug named Valkyr. She is the primary antagonist in the game, and killed by Payne when he knocks her building's satellite tower onto her helicopter.
  • Jack Lupino – Punchinello's underboss, and the target of an extensive investigation by the NYPD and the DEA in the first game, believed to be a source of Valkyr. However, he is just a minor player, and only resells the drug. He is also a constant user of the drug, which has driven him insane, and a cult leader, signing a deal with the Devil. He operates from his shady nightclub, the Ragna Rok, which is bought by Vladimir Lem soon after. He is killed by Payne in the club's inner sanctum.
  • Rico Muerte - A high-ranking pimp in the Punchinello mob and a former Chicago assassin. He is believed to be only a minor in the case, but it is shown to have powerful connections; he is actually an assassin working for Nicole Horne, Aesir's CEO, as a double agent in the Punchinello family, and also uses his status as a pimp to have one of his girls, Candy Dawn, seduce Senator Alfred Woden and allowing Horne to blackmail him. He was also hired by Horne to assassinate the mayor, using guns from a storage from Boris the Dime, who defected from Lem, but he was killed by Payne in his club.
  • Vince Mugnaio - The leading member of "The Trio", a sadistic enforcement team who serve as hitmen for the Punchinello family. He is killed along with the rest of The Trio by Payne in Punchinello's mansion; he is the last member of The Trio to die.
  • Pilate Providence (a.k.a. Big Brother) - A member of "The Trio", he is killed along with the rest of The Trio by Payne in Punchinello's mansion; he is the first member of The Trio to die.
  • Joe "Deadpan" Salem - A member of "The Trio", he is killed along with the rest of The Trio by Payne in Punchinello's mansion; he is the second member of The Trio to die.
  • Frankie "The Bat" Niagara - A hitman and a made man in the Punchinello mob, and Lupino's subordinate, who is tasked with disposing of Payne after Payne was found drugged not far from where he killed Jack Lupino. He leaves Payne to get a drink from the bar (where Candy Dawn and Rico Muerte were previously killed by Payne), leaving Payne to escape, follow him, and confront him; ultimately killing him. He got his nickname because he likes to beat up his victims with a bat.
  • Angelo Punchinello – The godfather of the Punchinello crime family and the game's secondary antagonist. A sadistic wife-beater, it is discovered that he is actually a pawn for Nicole Horne, and she was blackmailing him. He is killed by Horne's forces in his mansion.
  • Lisa Punchinello - Angelo Punchinello's wife and Mona Sax's sister, she is found dead by Payne in Punchinello's mansion.

Max Payne 2 characters[edit]

  • Corcoran – An Inner Circle member and contact of Mona's whom Max tries to find and save from the "Cleaners", Max is too late and finds him dead.
  • Annie Finn – Vladimir Lem's weapons dealer, she was ultimately betrayed by Lem and killed by the "Cleaners", although Payne was led to believe that Lem was the Cleaner's enemy. Max was too late to save her. She was also Lem's mistress.
  • Senator Sebastian Gates – An inner circle member and high ranking politician, he is assassinated on the orders of Vladimir Lem by Mona Sax.
  • Kaufman – Kaufman is the owner of the Squeaky Cleaning Company, which is actually a huge front for the assassination and "cleaning" business, known as "Cleaners" and one of Lem's subordinates. He operates from a huge building yard and an abandoned warehouse which is a front for the Cleaners's hideout. He was killed by Payne inside the Upper East Side Inner Circle building. It was believed that the Cleaners were working against Lem, but he was revealed to actually work for Lem.
  • Mike The Cowboy - Vladimir Lem's leading henchman, he initially assists Payne in saving his boss. If he survives the rescue attempt on Lem, he later attempts to kill Payne after he has uncovered the truth, but is ultimately himself killed by Payne.
  • Valerie Winterson – A respected NYPD detective and able investigator, Bravura seems to favor her over Payne. Winterson is a divorcee and a mother to a blind child. She is secretly in an affair with Vladimir Lem because he is helping her with money for her child, which leads her to attempt to betray Payne. However this backfires and she is killed by Payne.


  1. ^ Sources that refer to details about Max Payne 3 include:
  2. ^ "Max Payne on Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  3. ^ "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne on Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  4. ^ Orland, Kyle (September 14, 2011). "Grand Theft Auto IV Passes 22M Shipped, Franchise Above 114M". Gamasutra. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Film: Max Payne on Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  6. ^ "Max Payne Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Max Payne Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Max Payne Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Max Payne Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Max Payne 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Max Payne 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Max Payne 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Max Payne 3 Announced!". 2009-03-23. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  17. ^ IGN Filmforce (2005-06-27). "Max Payne Movie". IGN. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  18. ^ "Max Payne Movie Update". IGN. 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  19. ^ Fleming, Michael (2008-03-09). "Killer role for Kunis in 'Max Payne". Variety. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  20. ^ Fleming, Michael (2007-11-08). "Mark Wahlberg to star in 'Max'". Variety. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  21. ^ Max Payne (2008) – Cast and Credits – Yahoo! Movies
  22. ^ "First Max Payne Movie Trailer Released". Shacknews. 2008-07-10. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  23. ^ Gamepro, Issue #234, March 2008. pg. 30
  24. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results from 10/17 to 10/19". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  25. ^ Max Payne Movie Reviews. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2011-04-30.
  26. ^ Max Payne: Hero at IMDb
  27. ^ Payne and Redemption
  28. ^ Max Payne: Valhalla

External links[edit]