The world of Mad Max for many years was lost on me. My most dominant exposure to these cult classic favorites were of walking past my dad watching the various incarnations on the television as I went outside to play. On occasion, since my father’s taste in movies strongly influenced my geeky side, I would stop and watch a scene or two. It didn’t strike my fancy as cars and motorcycles never really appealed to me, and my brief encounters with the universe of Mad Max contained A LOT of ugly cars and grimy folks on motorcycles. The esthetic was just too rough around the edges for me to try to invest in this vein of post-apocalyptic genre, so I passed these movies by.
So when the hype of a new Mad Max film started buzzing about, I didn’t even blink, mostly because everything is being remade or sequeled to death these days. And then I heard that Tom Hardy was in it. I blinked. Then I heard Charlize Theron was in it. I blinked twice and my ears perked up. Then I heard that the original director was at the helm, and frankly, I was engaged. The thought that George Miller had climbed back up into the director’s seat for a franchise he had brought to life over 30 years ago was fascinating. This director has plenty of strong films under his belt, why risk ruining a legacy with a new film? These things could go horribly wrong (Star Wars Episodes 1-BARF) or be outstanding accomplishments (Star Trek, thank you, J.J. Abrams). I was really curious and happily accepted a pair of tickets to the screening with director in attendance.
George Miller introduced the film, accompanied by Hugh Keays-Byrne, The Toe-Cutter from the original film who also plays the main villain in Fury Road. Miller was soft-spoken and humble, stuttering a bit during the pre-show chat as he reached for the right words. I instantly LOVED him, and was kind of tickled that he, so understated in person, could have created the dirty, violent world of Mad Max. I was now intrigued and 100% open to the film.
And then the movie kicked my ass!!
The movie is gorgeous beyond words at every moment and in any frame. The rich desert landscapes combined with edgy, steam-punk designs of the various vehicles and technology of the film, create a jaw-dropping visual experience. The vehicles that make up a majority of the film’s sets, are beautiful and monstrous. And when these welded creations raced into war, equipped to the teeth with spikes, lances, and flame-throwers, I felt my heart-rate spike! Some movie goers were inspired to hoot and holler. As annoying as that can be, this movie really does get your blood pumping and I warn you that you will not have a quiet movie theater experience. It’s exciting and wondrous, so you can’t blame folks for squealing.
With the strong foundation of beautiful set and prop design in place, Miller then moves forward to choreograph some of the most gasp-worthy action sequences I have ever seen. I give a lot of credit to the fact that most of the stunts are just that, stunts. These are not CGI inventions doing inhuman tricks. While I’ll always love me some CGI Legolas and his acrobatics, Mad Max: Fury Road relies (mostly) on stunt men/women performing incredible feats in full costume and whilst riding upon, or above moving vehicles. Yet, with so much of the film using practical effects, it still manages to be shocking and exciting at every turn.
The majority of the movie is made up of three immense action/car chase sequences, and doesn’t offer very much recovering time between them. It’s a fast and hard ride, but it does have a good “action movie” storyline with all its bases covered. An “action movie” plot must create a story for the audience that quickly and effectively conveys a viable justification for the violence and action that takes up the bulk of the film. It should be simple and allow easy, but believable assumptions to be made, so that things can move quickly towards the action. In this case, I won’t go into the details too much, because there is a little bit of a “reveal” as you learn about some of the characters. Just know that you won’t be rolling your eyes at a half-assed, shitty plot. It’s very feminist-friendly, while still containing hot chicks wearing next to nothing for most of the second half. Rest assured, boys, nipples poke through garments on many occasions, but the ladies in your life won’t mind, because the women in this movie are full-on bad-asses. Miller gives strong women credit, where credit is due, and doesn’t allow the damsel-in-distress bullshit to come into play at any moment. Frankly, I found this aspect incredibly satisfying and made me love the film even more!
Every performance is solid, and I might even say outstanding. Tom Hardy gives us a deliciously effective Mad Max and I absolutely love him in this. Miller surprisingly underplays Max in the movie, as he is not the central character. He’s more of a witness and active participant in somebody else’s adventure. I would argue that Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron is the main character. Theron offers us the kind of performance that I adore in strong female leads. She is battle-hardened and has lived a life of survival through unimaginable circumstances. Yet her character carries the nurturing maternal drive and feminine energy of a woman with somebody to protect, reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. She plays the role excellently, and she has a natural knack for action.
If I were to point out any flaw in the movie, it’s that it doesn’t allow you enough time to recover between action sequences. One could argue, however, that it just isn’t “that” type of movie. This is the kind of film that you surrender to and simply enjoy the fabulous ride. It starts and finishes at full throttle and it hardly ever slows down. This is, in the purest sense of the word, an ACTION film, beautifully executed and wonderfully thrilling. Come ready to have fun and you won’t be disappointed.
Also, I will now make it a point to watch all the Mad Max films. Thank you, George Miller for your fabulous work!
Thank you for reading
Diva Del Mar