Tag Archives: george miller

Film Review: Mad Max Fury Road

Written by: Graeme Wood
19.05.15

Mad_Max_Fury_Road_1sheet

You might think that you know all there is to know about cars and trucks but wait till you experience this film! The real stars of “Mad Max-Fury Road” are the array of soup’d up, pimped up metal monstrosities that tear across the desert landscape and engage in robust carnage. They are equally strangely beautiful and awkwardly ugly, there’s nothing elegant about them at all. They’re made of joined up bits of different weather beaten road hardy vehicles and soldered together to create angular modes of transport. They’re weaponised too with all manner of hidden defence and assault capabilities, the best of which are long poles rising into the air from which their assailants dangle performing an acrobatic ballet then lean across the vehicles they are pursuing dispatching death and grenades in equal measure!
mad_max_fury-Road

Our two stars in the battered and supercharged War-Rig may be Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron but they struggle to get a look in amidst the clanging metal, fire laden racing and dusty road battles of these vehicles. Bizarrely the pursuing bad guys even bring along their own soundtrack, with guitars, speakers and drums melded into their vehicles cleverly providing the movie’s soundtrack and their own battle anthem! This is a very loud film with incidentals and effects turned up to the max.

Thematically it is a women in prison escape movie but its also one long ‘Wacky Races’ type chase against a post-apocalyptic background!

Furiosa (a shaven headed and nearly unrecognizable Charlize Theron) is engaged on a regular trip from The Citadel, a mountain encampment where the populace is kept under the mighty thumb of Immortan Joe; by his control over their water supply. The citizens of The Citadel are a nightmarish bunch with freakish half men, albino bald-headed warriors and obese women used to farm breast milk! Furiosa leads her convoy off-road and when it turns outmad_max_charlize_theron she’s helped several of Joe’s imprisoned slave wives to escape his breeding vault the chase is on! Amongst her pursuers is Max himself – introducing the films narrative with a Bane-like (Batman) voice over Max is strapped to the front of a jeep as a living ‘blood bank’ for a young warrior – or ‘war boy’ – called Nux (an equally unrecognisable Nicholas Hoult). You have to give some credit to Hardy, taking over the iconic role of Max from Mel Gibson and who spends the first third of the film tied up with his face obscured by a metal grid while valiantly attempting to convey Max’s fury, insanity and fear on this unplanned road trip.

The action is shot with momentum and jerky reality by George Miller capturing the dusty bleakness of the landscape and providing a number of tense sequences especially during chases in the bold first half of the movie. One advantage the film has over some of this year’s other big screen offerings is that much of the action consists of real-world rather than computer generated effects. You feel the scrapping of metal and the thunder of wheels because it really happens. An army of stunt people provide some impressive work conveying a sense of real danger and excitement to the audience. In this respect it is far more captivating than the now standard superheroes demolishing public buildings and landmarks in some of those other blockbuster spectacles.

At just the moment when Miller realizes we may be tiring of tyres not to mention engines, dust and people under wheels, the film opens up with (a little) more shade. Its revealed that Furiosa is taking the escaped concubines (all beauty and white drapes) to her mystical ‘green place’ and circumstances cause Max and Nux to join them, initially under duress, but eventually as willing allies. There’s a neat twist that you may see coming which turns the film around literally for a final half hour and because the first third has been so intense it doesn’t have quite the same impact. Even so this still provides a final chase that leaves you grimacing with disbelief as one near death jeopardy after another is overcome.
mad-max-image-2jpg

Inevitably the humans struggle as much with character as they do to stay alive; though there is a message of hope running through the film. The protagonists are all searching for some form of escape, Tom Hardy’s Max, struggling with bouts of delusion and stark images of a dead daughter is hard to relate too and could have done with a little more dialogue, meaning that Charlize Theron steals the film as the determined but practical Furiosa, channelling empowerment and looking like ‘Alien’s’ lead character Ripley. Nicholas Hoult has the only real character development, his early nihilistic Nux slowly losing faith with the god like Immortan Joe through an early attraction and the kindness of fellow escapee Capable. Hugh Keays-Byrne’s Immortan Joe looks like something H R Giger may have dreamt up and provides the necessary menace (all snarls and raging eyes) and danger as the film’s main villain. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley plays an escaped and heavily pregnant bride (the bizarrely named The Splendid Angharad) with an air of fierce determination that adds some emotion to her sacrifice and Riley Keough as Capable gives enough to make her character stand out from the other brides who provide little more than background.

This is not a subtle movie, drawing from Western and comic book iconography as well as having more than a hint of humour lifted from those old Road Runner and Wacky Races cartoons, albeit in a slightly demented form. Some may weary of its near constant motion and frenzied action but with comparatively little CGI, a terrific sound mix, thrilling stunts, breathtaking cinematography and strong direction this latest entry into the Mad Max franchise is a thoroughly exciting ride that has to be seen on the largest screen you can find to be fully appreciated!

Tom Hardy as Mad Max

Tom Hardy as Mad Max

With its early global box office success and having managed to breathe new life into a series of memorable 80s movies it will be interesting to see where Miller takes our road weary anti-hero Max next on his travels.