Variety reports that Mark Wahlberg has signed for the lead in the big-screen adaptation of Max Payne. The 3rd person shooter game was released by Rockstar Games (makers of Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto Series) back in 2001. The story centered on Max Payne, an embittered cop from Hell's Kitchen who comes home one day to find his wife and baby daughter have been murdered by junkies. Now undercover in the DEA, Max is given up to the mob all the while, uncovering a government conspiracy surrounding a designer drug called Valkyr. The game spawned two sequels and Fox had purchased the screen rights back in 2003.

John Moore has already been slated to direct the Beau Thorne script (Moore is also behind the vampire zombie flick Virulents that Scott told us about a few months ago). Some changes have taken place with the story; they kept the dead family, but it seems like the conspiracy angle has been tossed. Now, the story is about a cop (Wahlberg) with, "little regard for rules as he investigates a series of mysterious murders. He finds himself up against an adversary bent on destroying Max and the streets he protects".

Producer Scott Faye told IGN back in July that, "I think this is a real actor's part because although the story will have action and intrigue, at its core it's a story about a man who loses everything in life that's dear to him" -- so I can only assume that Faye is convinced that Wahlberg is the man for the job -- if nothing else, he does have the sneer down pat. Wahlberg recently replaced Ryan Gosling in Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones and will start work on Payne as soon as Bones has been completed. Max Payne is tentatively scheduled to start shooting early next year and head for theaters in 2010.