Grosse Point Geek turns his critical eye to the latest blockbuster release – Mad Mad Fury Road!
Director: George Miller
Actors: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays Byrne
In a post apocalyptic future, the remnants of humanity eke out a feral existence scavenging for water, fuel and ammunition. In the midst of this chaos we meet Max Rockatansky (Hardy) an ex highway patrol cop, roaming the Earth in his souped up V8 Interceptor whilst haunted by the death of his wife and child. A series of very unfortunate events sees Max reluctantly forced to team up with Theron’s Furiosa, who has stolen the five breeding wives of (the extremely unhinged) King Immortan Joe (Keays Byrne) and is making a desperate escape across the wasteland in an armoured truck – all the while being hotly pursued by Joe’s army of homicidal War Boys.
Its been 30 years since Thunderdome, and after a myriad false starts, forced delays and a change of leading man, George Miller has finally brought us his long in gestation fourth entry in the Mad Max series.
As my erstwhile friend and colleague Mr Phil Hobden knows to his exasperation – of all the films I wanted to see this year – this was the one I was most excited about, and I am very happy to report that it was definitely worth the wait.
Now a word of warning – this ain’t your typical Hollywood summer blockbuster – in fact at times it’s a damned strange film. Indeed, I would have to say, that so far removed is it from the usual SFX heavy Michael Bay-alike crap that we are usually subjected to, that it is almost “art-house” in its approach. Amazingly what appears to have happened is that rarest of occurrence’s – where a big studio (in this case Warner Bros.) has eschewed all creative control, handed over $150 million dollars and just trusted the director to get on with it. The result being an action film like no other I have ever seen, which giddily sticks two fingers up at the conventional world of movie making and somehow manages to pull it off.
So what makes it so good? On a technical level it’s flawless – with stunning photography, brilliant editing, astounding camera work, a rousing operatic score by Junkie XL, and a refreshing lack of CGI that is instead replaced by (shock!) actual people, proper sets and real vehicles. Equally impressive are the performances – Tom Hardy is absolutely superb as Max. Making the character very much his own – gone is the anti hero of the Mel Gibson era, instead this Max has actually properly gone mad – a tortured, grunting almost wordless lost soul, repeatedly seeing visions of his dead wife and daughter with only one purpose left in life – survive to the next day. In addition, Charlize Theron is excellent as Furiosa – a hard as nails, shaven headed warrioress with a mechanical arm – indeed so great is she in the role that in years to come we will undoubtedly be celebrating Furiosa in the same way we do Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor.
Now as any hardened fan of this series will know – one does not go to see a Mad Max film just for the performances of its actors – no indeed, we go primarily for the action scenes, and it is here that George Miller has unequivocally triumphed the most – and then some. To say the least, the cinematic mayhem on display here is like nothing I have seen before. Cars, trucks and people collide, crash and explode in a giddy circus of increasingly mental set pieces that time and again left me completely and utterly breathless. One scene in particular, where Hoult’s War Boy Nux drives hell for leather into a raging sandstorm, with a muzzled Hardy strapped to his vehicle, is simply heart stopping in its brilliance.
Of course no film is perfect – and I did have a couple of very minor niggles – notably the character of Max does come across as a little underdeveloped and could have done with a bit more fleshing out. Also as good as she is, there was a tad too much emphasis on Theron as Furiosa -which at times left Hardy in a more supporting role – which was a slight disappointment . The same is true of Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe – who isn’t given nearly enough screen time or backstory and does end up with one or two very clunky lines to spit out at times.
These are however miniscule issues in what can only be described as an absolutely amazing cinematic experience. Of the many reviews I have already read, it’s already being universally hailed as one of the best action movies ever made. For me, I can’t say for sure just yet, as I need watch it again and then buy the Blu Ray – however it is undoubtedly a major contender and without doubt, one of the greatest films of its genre.
George Miller, you have the thanks of film fans the world over, take a bow mate – you did good.
Author: Will Strong