"Project Valhalla had not been the only thing the Inner Circle had been involved in. There were rows of cabinets, full of files. The serpentine secret society went back a long way, always pulling strings from the shadows."
Max Payne

The Inner Circle is a secret society that seems to have influence over organized crime in New York City, as well as the federal government. In 2001, the Inner Circle works with Max Payne to help take down Nicole Horne and the Aesir Corporation. In 2003, the Inner Circle suffers in-fighting between its members and many (if not all of them) perish in the conflict.


Similar to many secret societies in popular culture, the Inner Circle is a group of influential figures that have ties to crime, government, religion and other institutions of power and wealth that come together privately to further their own agendas. They are also known to use others to complete their objectives, such as using Max Payne to kill Nicole Horne and dismantle the remnants of the Valkyr project.

The group, when seen in the first game, initially appear as four shadowy business-types with the ability to gain access to government intel and influence. Also, when the building they use as a meeting place, the Asgard Building, is attacked and most of the group is killed, Max discovers documents that reveal the long history of the group and how much reach they have in terms of influence and resources. When Max also carries out his end of the deal with the Inner Circle regarding the death of Nicole Horne, the fugitive agent is pardoned of his previous killing and misconduct during the events of the Valkyr Case.

In the second game the number of members in the Inner Circle is unknown, (at least several members are killed during the Cleaners' assault on the Upper East Side apartments) but four of the known members are listed below. Within the group, conflicts arise due to Vladimir Lem causing rifts between the members of the group and then, using his gang and the Cleaners, he orders the deaths of Vinnie Gognitti and the members of the Inner Circle, which results in the virtually every member being executed. Vlad carries out his plot until he is killed by Max Payne, and with him dies every known member of the secret society.

Known members of the Inner Circle Edit

Associates of the Inner CircleEdit

  • Mona Sax - An assassin working for Nicole Horne to eliminate Angelo Punchinello and, later, during the civil war of the society, for Alfred Woden. Woden assigns her to kill Max Payne but she is overcome by her feelings for him. She is either killed by Vladimir Lem or manages to survive.*
  • Max Payne - A fugitive wanted by the police to whom Woden and other members present an offer to eliminate Nicole Horne in exchange for their help exonerating him.
  • Valerie Winterson - A Homicide detective. Has a romantic relationship with Vladimir Lem and leaks any information of the NYPD to him. Later agrees to murder Payne and Sax for Lem but gets killed by Payne.

* Depending on the Max Payne 2 game difficulty.



"Nothing mystical about them, even if they themselves would like to think so. Just one step up the ladder of organized crime."
Vladimir Lem


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