Released: May 2015
Director: George Miller
Run Time: 121 Minutes
Tom Hardy: Max
Charlize Theron: Furiosa
Nicholas Hoult: Nux
Hugh Keays-Byrne: Immortan Joe
Zoe Kravitz: Toast The Knowing
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: The Splendind Angharad
Riley Keough: Capable
Abbey Lee: The Dag
Courtney Eaton: The Fragile
Oh, Mad Max, how we have missed you. In 1979, a small post-apocalyptic science fiction film was released in Australia to critical acclaim. The movie starred the up-and-coming Mel Gibson in his break-out role as Max Rockatansky. The rest of the world didn’t get to know Max until Mad Max 2 was released. People over here in the states were rather confused about a sequel to a movie that they had never seen, so the film was re-named The Road Warrior for the rest of the world. It was The Road Warrior that really made the character as popular as he is. While both movies were incredibly directed by George Miller, it was the second movie that took the world by storm. So, why was Mad Max so popular? It was a myriad of reasons. The characters, the cars, the stunts and the action were above and beyond anything that we had ever seen. For a movie like Mad Max to come out of Australia when it did wasn’t particularly usual, but George Miller captured lightening in a bottle, essentially. Mad Max was very well-received, but the sequel garnered the most attention. The Road Warrior took the best parts of the first movie and took it to another level. The final car chase at the end of the movie has never been topped, until now. Yes, there was a third movie. The less said about Thunderdome, the better. This year, we got ourselves a new Mad Max film: Fury Road.
Fury Road opens as we witness Max getting chased down and captured by a clan of cutthroat bandits. Attempting to fight his way to freedom, Max is locked up in a cage. Later, we see the clan’s leader, Immortan Joe ordering his Imperator Furiosa to take his war truck to the towns of Gas Town and Bullet Town to restock on supplies. Little does he know that Furiosa took something of his with her, something that he values almost more than anything: His five “brides” that he kidnapped at some point and used them as breeders. So, they convinced Furiosa to help them escape. Witnessing his war rig take a sudden detour has Immortan Joe going on the warpath, gathering all his soldiers to chase down Furiosa and retrieve his brides. The story isn’t bad, but it is kind of thin, but then, the Mad Max movies really weren’t about the story. No, these movies were about Max’s world, the characters, the action, the stunts, and the cars. Despite not having the strongest story, the world of Mad Max is actually a very compelling one. It’s set in the year 2060 after multiple global catastrophes, including a nuclear war, have reduced the world to ruin. Civilization has collapsed and anarchy rules the wastelands. In the midst of all that insanity, the survivors are doing whatever they can to survive. It’s very interesting in how it’s all presented. You have tons of different clans and tribes that control different areas including canyons and towns.
In a previous post, I addressed a particular controversy about a certain group of men who claim to be “men’s rights activists.” They claim that Mad Max: Fury Road is loaded with feminist propaganda. They couldn’t be further from the truth if they had tried. Yes, George Miller hired feminist Eva Ensler of The Vagina Monologues as a consultant for the film, but her input couldn’t have been more valuable. See, there’s a couple of scenes in the film in which some women are chained to a wall as a resource for their breast milk. While it is strange, it highlights the particular economy of the world that Mad Max inhabits. This is a world in which civilization has collapsed, so anything goes. If not handled properly, scenes like that would really come across as offensive. Thankfully, George Miller is smarter than that. Here’s another thing: the women in this movie are strong. From Furiosa to the brides, Mad Max: Fury Road is as much a movie for women as it is for men. Charlize Theron demonstrates why she is one of the finest actresses in Hollywood. She nearly steals the show from Tom Hardy, who is no slouch either. The character of Furiosa is definitely tough, but she is also vulnerable. She comes across as a real human being. The ladies who portray the brides are fantastic. The characters had the nerve to ask Furiosa to help them escape. The relationship between these characters is palpable and authentic. The men are equally fantastic. Tom Hardy steps into the shoes of Max and is absolutely fantastic. Hardy is one of my favorite actors in the industry. He is so versatile that he disappears into the characters that he plays. Nicholas Hoult plays the lackey, Nux, who appears to some….problems. He’s absolutely nuts, but as the movie goes on, we seem him change. For all Mad Max fans, the man who played Toe Cutter in the original film returns as Immortan Joe: Hugh Keays-Byrne. His presence in Fury Road is very menacing. His clear armor and face mask really make the character stand out as one of the more interesting villains I’ve seen. He’s clearly a tyrant, and it’s hard to see any kind of saving grace, considering how he treats women. Seeing the women fight back in this movie is refreshing.
You remember the fantastic car chase/battle at the end of The Road Warrior? Take that and set a movie around it, and you have Mad Max: Fury Road. While the film DOES slow down a little bit at certain points, this is mostly a balls-to-the-wall action flick. It is absolutely insane. The opening sequence with Max trying to escape is nuts. Then there’s the chase across the desert which ends up going through a massive storm. That is a sight to behold with tornadoes, lightening and cars just ramming each other. It’s one of the craziest sequences I’ve ever seen. Aside from the storm sequence, CGI is used at a minimum in Fury Road. George Miller prefers the use of actual cars and stunts as opposed to excessive CG animation. That makes for a more interesting and exciting experience, because you know what you are seeing is the real deal. Yeah, you’ve got big explosions and gun fights, but the real big spectacles are the car chases. Holy. Shit. The cars themselves are absolutely nuts. There’s one car that doubles as a giant battle-drum of sorts with a guitarist that uses a guitar that shoots fire. Yes, a guitar flamethrower. Most of this stuff is done without a green screen. This is a high-octane, adrenaline-pumping thrill-ride. This was the action movie I was waiting for. The music by Junkie XL is incredible. There’s a lot of orchestral stuff mixed in with guitar-work and some techno, which feeds the experience. As soon as I got home from the movie, I got the soundtrack, and it’s worth owning.
It took George Miller ten years to get this beast of a movie out into theaters, but he did it. Mad Max: Fury Road is the best action movie this side of The Raid, and is right up there with The Road Warrior. I know people didn’t like the idea of seeing a Mad Max without Mel Gibson, and while I certainly would have like to see him in a small role, Fury Road is absolutely one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. If you have to choose between seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road, see Mad Max. It’s a better movie in every aspect. It’s not perfect, as some of the CG that is used is obvious, but that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the film. This is an experience that can be shared by both men AND women. The women will get strong female characters that can hold their own with the men, and the men will have the bad-ass cars, explosions and fights to go along with it. Hollywood, take note: THIS is how you make a compelling action movie. Tom Hardy has signed on for three more films starting with Mad Max: The Wastelands. It’s great to see the character make a strong comeback after 30 years. I will be in line to see more Mad Max movies, especially of Mr. Miller insists on directing them. Honestly, I can’t recommend this movie enough. For action junkies, Mad Max: Fury Road will satisfy you, guaranteed. For Mad Max fans: The same. Movies like Mad Max: Fury Road really aren’t made anymore, and in an industry that’s basically been overrun by over-hyped superhero movies, it is refreshing to see a movie that is essentially back to basics. Go see this movie, I can’t stress that enough. It is pure cinematic magic at its finest. Mad Max: Fury Road easily gets a 9.5/10. What a lovely day, indeed.