Mad Max: Fury Road – the Black & Chrome Edition

31/04/17

Fury Road was easily my favourite movie of 2015. George Miller’s long awaited addition to the Mad Max series surpassed all my expectations – so much so, that I found myself going back for a second helping only a few days after the initial viewing (something I hardly ever do). For my money, this is the consummate action movie, a brilliant piece of world building with a visceral kinetic edge that had me on the edge of my seat, from its opening moments.

And now this: a black and white re-release! What the actual hey? But don’t jump to conclusions. What could at first seem like a mere act of vanity on Miller’s part quickly fades away when you discover that this is how he always intended the film to be shown. But his backers evidently didn’t see the wisdom in limiting its projected audience and insisted that he stick with colour. Now, after the original film’s well-deserved success, Miller finally gets to have his cake and eat it. And boy, what a glorious, delicious confection it is!

A quick resumé of the plot. Max (Tom Hardy) is captured by a war party belonging to disfigured despot, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), and soon finds himself appropriated as a portable blood supply for young war-boy, Nux (Nicholas Hoult). When Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) decides to abscond with several of Joe’s captive wives, a furious chase ensues… which lasts for pretty much the entire film’s duration.

From the opening shot, it’s apparent that this is going to work – big time. The razor sharp monochrome landscapes lend the film a vintage epic feel, evoking memories of John Ford’s Western vistas, while the many close ups of faces in crowds put me in mind of Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. Sequences that I really didn’t think would work at all in this format are actually lent an added dimension. And in black and white, you are even more aware of Miller’s incredible attention to detail, from the costuming of his characters to the welded-together interiors of Imortan Joe’s war jalopies.

If you enjoyed the original film (and if not, why not?) you’ll relish the opportunity to view it with a fresh set of eyes – and if you hated it, well, this isn’t going to change your opinion one jot. Will there be another film in the series? Given that Miller is now in his seventies, that might not be a likely prospect, but, if the sequence does stop here, I have to say, it’s a pretty formidable, adrenalin-fueled swan song.

To paraphrase Nux: “What a film! What a wonderful film!’

5 stars

Philip Caveney

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