Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, and Hugh Keays-Bearne
Directed by George Miller
Theatrical Version: ****/5
Black and Chrome: ****½:5
When promoting the film “Mad Max: Fury Road” in the summer of 2015, director George Miller expressed interest in releasing a cut of the film in black and white. In 2016, Miller delivered on this with the release of “Mad Max: Fury Road-Black and Chrome.” The film adds a new visual dynamic by removing the color palette from the theatrical version. As a result, the film’s already-impressive use of practical special effects and intricate car stunts is given a much greater impact than was previously seen.
The story involves Max Rockatansky (Hardy, in the role made famous by Mel Gibson) being physically and emotionally shaken by the events of the previous films, having failed to protect the ones he cared for. The world has also been reduced to a post apocalyptic wasteland, with oil and water now being valued commodities.
After Max is captured by maniacal dictator Immortan Joe (Keys-Bearne), he must form a reluctant alliance with the Imperator Furiosa (Theron) and a “war boy” known as Nux (Hoult) in order to bring down Joe’s oppressive regime and bring hope to a world torn apart by insanity and war.
While the setup may seem simple on the surface, the film has a surprising amount of relevance for the world today. In a film industry that’s been increasingly dominated by complex storylines and elaborate action sequences, the simplicity of the plot of “Fury Road” has been lauded as highly refreshing. Rather than overshadowing the story, the action scenes compliment it perfectly. While there are one or two scenes that resort to CGI, including a fantastic sequence set in the midst of a sandstorm, Miller’s use of practical special effects is impeccable. The car stunts present a high-octane 2-hour demolition derby not seen from the series since 1982’s, “The Road Warrior.”
Even with a simplistic story and minimal-at-best-dialogue, the cast still puts on an impressive series of performances. While Hardy may not have the same level of gleeful insanity Gibson brought to the role of Max, few actors today have the range he does. Within the same scene, Hardy can go from lamenting the loss of loved ones to using a murderous truck driver as a meat shield and blowing up his rig. The real star of the film, however, is easily Furiosa. Theron’s performance is equal parts mysterious stranger and driven warrior, generating great interest for a potential spinoff about her character.
With the release of the “Black and Chrome” version of the film coming after winning multiple Academy Awards, the black and white cut of “Mad Max: Fury Road” is easily the definitive version of George Miller’s blockbuster action film. While it remains to be seen whether or not the planned follow-up, “The Wasteland” will answer the question of “who killed the world;” it is clear that this version of the film will ride eternal in action film glory, shiny, black and chrome!
Story by Steven Pryor