It’s been a while since I’ve seen any of the previous Mad Max films leading up to Mad Max: Fury Road. However, that didn’t stop me from catching the glory of director George Miller‘s return to the fray aside from this being my big screen introduction to the character, and needless to say, it’s nothing short of the wonderous, gruesome, brutally fantastic cinematic treat that any number of reviews will tell you this month.
The film immediately reinvites you into the rebooted madness with a heavily-bearded Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) in the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland as he’s captured by the War Boys, a cult of bald albinos led by Immorten Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). While in captivity, Rockatansky soon ends up as a universal blood donor to one of the War Boys, Nux (Nicholas Hoult) who is eager to meet his destiny at the foot of Joe’s calling when Joe and his heavily-armed and rocked-out war party head after Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who uses a rig to rescue five wives from Joe’s evil clutches. The chase begins and calamity and chaos ensues and Rockatansky fights away from Nux, only to end up at Furiosa’s disposal when her rig fails under his operation, forging a reluctant alliance against Joe and his army as they race through the burning desert to freedom, although as the odds would have it, running away may be far from a viable option for survival.
Overall, this film’s biggest accomplishment is its glorious, large scale return to the universe, done in such a filmic and tasteful way that would put most reboots to shame. Hardy does an excellent job carrying on the legacy of the character amidst a flurry of faces, including Theron whose role proves to be a truly fantastic addition to the Mad Max universe. Both actors share a workable chemistry in their on-screen pairing which is one of the film’s few intimate connections I enjoyed seeing flourish, particularly next to Hoult and actress Riley Keough; it especially played an integral role in evolving Hoult’s character which opened me seeing this film for something far more better than it usually is for other films.
The action, of course, is exhilarating, as is danger level for MANY of the stunts in this film. The score is spectacular and the visuals are amazing as well as the set pieces and props, including a badass flamethrowing guitar performed by stuntman Ben Smith-Petersen hanging on the front end of a war rig. The vehicle designs are impeccable and fitting for this film’s battle-hardened nature as are the costumes worn by our heroes and villains alike, including Keays-Byrne in his celebratory stake in this franchise revival since first playing the villain, Toecutter, opposite then-lead Mel Gibson in the 1979 original.
The film isn’t really dialogue heavy and much of the exchanges are slightly more simplistic than some may prefer, but then again the film reportedly didn’t have a script, so that’s a curve I’ll apply there. Other than that, I was really impressed and pleased by the performances overall, especially by Theron who takes the helm for most of the film. That said, as far as some assertions may go about the lead actress getting too much screen time or the film’s alleged underlying “feminist agenda”, some people just need to shut the fuck up. I go to the movies to have fun watching a great story unfold, while whether or not we get to amply see our protagonist(s) on screen with regard to it’s detriment or benefit to the film as a whole can be left to debate. In this case, particularly in reference to the brouhaha by the Mens’ Rights pussies who can’t seem appreciate a good thing so as to not boycott it, it really is a bullshit discussion, and I’m otherwise pleased to not have to share theater space with any of these trolls.
On a more formal note, from a cinematic perspective, Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t all about Mad Max. It’s a bigger world full of heroes and villains alike and the dichotomy here is neither Black nor White, which makes it all the more intriguing. So in hindsight, that helped Mad Max: Fury Road further construct itself to be the film it needed to be – a compelling story of an anti-heroic survivor in a dilapidated world where among the remainder of mankind, trust in the face of pure evil has become nearly as dead as the Earth, with hope being evermore the only option.
As a result, what this did is it made room for more heroes to exist in this film in a way that balances everything out almost perfectly, and because we already have three movies in which we already generally know all there is to know about Max, I had no problem with the direction this film took. Besides, there are at least three MORE movies in the mix after this, and that gives Miller plenty of space and time for Max Rockatansky to exist as the central figure no matter how many more characters are revealed or killed off in some capacity.
All in all, Mad Max: Fury Road is exactly the hype that it’s being deemed to be by all the critics out there this month. Some have argue that this may even be the best film of the year and sure, we’re seven months away from drawing that possible conclusion, I wouldn’t protest it much. The acclaim here is well deserved and earned, especially for a director who never forgot his roots, even after helming two Happy Feet movies (which my inner-child penguin enjoyed…and no, I have no shame in admitting that).
My two cents, take it or leave it.