The movie originally looked set for a Restricted rating from the MPAA, but after some harsh comments from director John Moore, along with a few cuts, the movie has been granted a more audience-friendly PG-13. PG-13 is a “sterner” warning to parents that the movie in question may not be suitable for children under 13, going beyond the standard PG rating for “theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements,” without reaching into R territory. Moore claimed only minor cuts were required for the rating change, saying in an interview with GameDaily, “We trimmed some frames more for the sake of trimming frames than anything, but we got the rating without any major changes at all. I’m a little surprised that we changed their minds, effectively, but I’m happy about it.”
He’s also happy about the final result, calling Max Payne “as effective a videogame movie [as] you’re ever going to see,” and describing it as “the real Max Payne, not some tricked-out, watered-down, family-friendly version.” And naturally, while nothing has been confirmed yet, Moore said a sequel is a distinct possibility. “I think in the movie there are enough loose ends to maybe make Max realize that it’s not all over,” he said. “That he didn’t quite get 100 percent justice.”
Moore also revealed that the movie will be released in an extended DVD cut following its theatrical run. “There’s what I call the Gamer Dedicated Cut of the movie,” he said. “It’s a little slower and a little more atmospheric. There are some rougher edges on it, but it’s not going to be a bloodfest. I want this to be the Max Payne that I set out to shoot. It’s not that I wanted to release one version in the theaters and make a cheap buck by following up with a blood-drenched DVD version. The movie you see in the theaters will be an intense experience and the movie you see on DVD will be as intense an experience with some extra sensibilities for people who really adore the game.”
Setting aside for the moment the obvious questions raised about lobbying for – and getting, with no uproar – a PG-13 rating for a movie based on an M (Mature) rated videogame, promoting a DVD release of the movie that’s the version the director “set out to shoot” doesn’t exactly encourage me to shell out 11 bucks to see the thing at the theater. I suddenly find myself thinking that for a few dollars more, I can own the “better” version of the movie and watch it whenever I want, in the comfort of my own home. Moore may not consider it a “cheap buck,” but I fail to see how he’s doing himself or his film any favors by essentially admitting that the version on the big screen isn’t really the movie he wanted to make.