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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Fox: The streak that just won't end!

October 17, 2008 |  5:07 pm

PayneOne of my first e-mails this morning was from an agent, who succinctly wrote: "Check out the 'Max Payne' reviews. The streak is still alive!" For blog newcomers, he was referring to the fact that since I began this blog, I've been keeping track of all of the awful movies released by 20th Century Fox. Aside from last spring's "Horton Hears a Who!," Fox has released 22 movies since  "The Simpsons Movie" in summer 2007. Of those 22, every single one has failed to register even a mediocre 50 score at Rotten Tomatoes, the Web's leading aggregator of movie reviews.

Make that 23.

The studio's latest film, the Mark Wahlberg-starring video game adaptation "Max Payne," is another critical dog. Its current Rotten Tomatoes score: 17% fresh. According to today's latest tracking numbers, the PG-13 rated thriller may win the weekend box-office derby, but it only cements Fox's reputation as the industry's least quality-conscious studio. The film's director, John Moore, has made all four of his feature films at Fox, so the studio knew exactly what it was getting, since his last movie, "The Omen," earned a 26% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. 

There was little dissent in the critical ranks. The Detroit News' Tom Long said " 'Max Payne' may be the worst movie of the year. The 'may be' qualifier is only because the year isn't over yet. The movie isn't laugh-it's-so-bad bad. It's just please-God--let-this-be-over bad." Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman called it a "grindingly inert death wish thriller ... with a not-quite sci-fi urban murkiness that makes it look like someone was trying to shoot 'Blade Runner' in Cleveland." Even Back Stage's Pete Hammond, who's famous for tossing bouquets at almost anything projected on screen, gave it a thumbs down, saying it "feels like a mere shadow of 'The Dark Knight' or even 'The Matrix.' " And here's what Sam Adams had to say about it in The Times.

I'm sure he was well compensated, but after following M. Night Shyamalan's hapless "The Happening" with this dreary exercise, Mark Wahlberg should either fire his agent or put a no-Fox movie clause in his contract.

Photo of Mark Wahlberg in "Max Payne" by Michael Muller / Fox