‘Mad Max: Fury Road′

Reviewed by Mitch Burns

Directed by: George Miller (Mad Max, Happy Feet, Mad Max: Road Warrior)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Holt, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, John Howard, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Melissa Jaffer, and Hugh Keays-Byrne

Warner bros. Pictures
                                                                                      Warner bros. Pictures

All too often films get lost in exposition, trying to explain convoluted stories, or more often than not, simple plots, in a convoluted manner.  ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is almost pure action, but that doesn’t mean it’s without clarity. A beginning, poetic voice-over from Max himself and we’re thrust into his world.

Max (Tom Hardy) is taking a quick piss break when he hears the roar of oncoming vehicles, he hops in his vehicle but escape is futile. Max is captured and brought to the mountainside citadel that is run by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Max is quickly branded as a universal donor and becomes a “Blood bag” for the sick war boy Nux (Nicholas Holt). When Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) escapes with Immortan Joe’s 5 wives, or breeders, Joe and his entire army begin the chase to bring his wives home. Nux does not want to miss out on the chase and decides to go with, bringing Max with him, as he is his supply of fresh blood.

An unrelenting chase begins, across sand and rock, and Immortan Joe will stop at nothing to bring his girls back home, and Imperator Furiosa will stop at nothing to keep these girls safe. Caught in the middle is Max.

As we’ve learned from the past Mad Max films, each of these films is more or less a standalone adventure, only sharing it’s central character. Beyond Max, some similar looking cars, and some vague flashbacks, nothing carries over from those first films, it’s all about the world that George Miller has created. A world where Fuel, water and food are a scarcity, and survival isn’t easy.

Saying survival isn’t easy, that is an understatement. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is a 2 hour action thrill-ride, there are few moments of calm, and said moments of calm are filled with a looming sense of dread, as we know what lies around the corner. Director George Miller keeps his foot on the throttle, keeping the audience entertained, but doesn’t shy away from a story that is attentive and interesting, and characters that are complex.

We aren’t given much time to associate ourselves with each character, including some interesting side characters, but Miller has a way of introducing a character in a single shot or with one look, in a way that sticks. I’ll remember more than a handful of characters from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ while I couldn’t name more than two robots from Michael Bays ‘Transformers’.

The effects, most of which I’ve learned were practical, are spectacular. The stunts are flawless, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ has countless people jumping from moving vehicle to moving vehicle, cars flying through the air and people flying from cars. The cinematography is impressive as well, capturing each action scene with the utmost lucidity. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ also looks incredible, Cinematographer John Seale, and Production designer Colin Gibson should be a part of the conversation throughout the upcoming awards season.

Tom Hardy, and his lips, give the stellar performance we have come to expect from him, and Charlize Theron doesn’t disappoint at all. It’s Nicholas Holt who shocks, quickly shedding any young-adult star nonsense, and entering the ring as a bonafide actor with mad skills. Hugh Keays-Byrne has kept a low profile since the 1979 ‘Mad Max’ where he played the unforgettable villain with the name Toecutter, and now he’s back playing another unforgettable villain Immortan Joe, and the 68 year old actor plays him menacingly.

You don’t have to see ‘Mad Max’ (1979), ‘Mad Max 2: Road Warrior’ (1981) or ‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome’ (1985) to enjoy Fury Road. These three films hardly stand up today, I enjoy ‘Mad Max 2: Road Warrior’ quite a bit, and the other two are fun, but I’ll probably never watch them again. We’re treated to flashbacks in Fury Road, they aren’t clips from old movies, instead they are newly filmed scenes. I’m only assuming these flashbacks are flashbacks to the death of Max’s wife and child in the first film.

I’ve met one or two people who disliked the film, I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of someone who isn’t me and see why they’ve disliked the film. Maybe it’s that the film may seem a bit absurd to some, a lot of things would have to go wrong for our world to get to a stage where we’d find need for an electric guitar that shoots flames. I have very, very little in terms of negativity to say about ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, as it’s quite clearly the best film I’ve seen in 2015 thus far.

George Miller, the 70 year old director, is getting the large share of the praise for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, and rightfully so, it’s a movie that should never have happened, and had no right to be as good as it is. It’s the fourth film in a 30 year old franchise, nothing about Mad Max’s big screen return is logical, but I’m incredibly happy that Miller put in the work it took to bring Mad Max back to the big screen.

Grade: A+

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