‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Movie Review

May 15, 2015 1 Comment

What do you call a film that is absent the glamor, flash, hype and all of the automobiles being driven look like total shit? I’m not sure, but I like to call it the anti-Fast & Furious. That’s basically what you get when you think of ‘Mad Max.’ The iconic George Miller trilogy finally returns to the silver screen, except today is the last day we can call it a ‘trilogy.’

Then again, you can still probably call it a trilogy, because this isn’t exactly a direct sequel from Beyond Thunderdome (1985). This is more of a reboot, which takes place years after Max lost his family and post-apocalypse Australia. This is great because that means the only film the audience will need to see is the first Mad Max (1979) film, which Fury Road loosely references its story from.

And by loosely, I mean almost zero of the events relate to the setting of the original Mad Max film. You have a brief explanation of what occurred to the world, similar to the first Mad Max sequel, ‘Road Warrior‘ (1981; although that film doesn’t relate to the reboot, you should still probably watch it just to give you taste of what you’re in for).

Another thing that relates to the original Mad Max are the occasional images Max sees the wife, daughter and partner (although, mostly his wife and daughter) he failed to save. We also can’t forget Max’s iconic Road Warrior automobile. Other than that, this film stands entirely on its own. No pointless backstory to study, unlike those silly Fast & Furious movies.

What can I say about the plot? Nothing, because there isn’t one. It’s basically one thing that leads to another. Even the official trailer is extremely vague.

But if you really need a plot:

Tom Hardy is the main character in the film Mad Max: Fury Road (originally played by Mel Gibson). Max was once a police officer based in Australia. After war and destruction turned the entire planet into a wasteland, we wanders from place to place surviving by any means necessary.

He becomes prisoner of a local band of extreme cultist, and after a failed (by exciting) escaped attempt, he is once again captured as a ‘Universal Donor’ and used for the purpose of transfusing blood to, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a member of the cult.

The leader of the cult (or tribe) is named Immorten Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who is a dictator and oppresses is own people, even depriving them of water. He sends his War Rig to go on a supply run and acquire gasoline (because fuel is still an essential commodity, if anyone remembers the last two Mad Max films). That War Rig is run by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). During that supply run, Furiosa decides to deviate from the plan and drives in a different direction. Joe finds out what Furiosa is doing, and sends his warriors after she.

Basically the entire film is a chase after this War Rig. Along the way, we discover Furiosa’s ulterior motives and we’re just fortunate enough to have Max in the middle of it all, like always.

The screenplay is absolutely brilliant, and probably everything you would expect from a reboot from the previous films. It’s smarter and sophisticated, but at the same time being more subtile and grounded. Having far more complex action/driving scenes using real practical effects and stunts, while using other effects to enhance the landscape (which was shot in Namibian). You also have the driving through a tornado sandstorm, which was a brilliant use of CGI, and one of my favorite scenes in the film.

Of course what makes the film work the most are the actors(esses). I thought Tom Hardy was a brilliant choice as the new Max. Hardy is totally commanding on screen and provides a certain element that is different from the Gibson ‘Max’ that we all grew up with. Whereas Gibson’s Max came across as macho, Hardy’s seemed a bit more reserved. Hardy never even introduces himself as Max in the film, and only mentions his name once. Not when he was asked, but when he thought it was necessary. Hardy plays the role as if the world belongs to everyone else but him, and he’s just living in it — “As the world fell it was hard to know who was more crazy: Me… or everyone else.”

The greatest supporting actress I’ve seen in a long time has to go to Charlize Theron, probably one of my favorite actresses (and I don’t have many). Extremely versatile and significantly capable of committing herself to any role she plays. Whether it’s gaining 50 pounds (Monster, 2003), adopting American-Western accents (A Million Ways To Die In The West, 2014) or shaving her head. She has the character Furiosa completely pegged, who has to be one of the toughest female characters I have ever seen. She even comes equipped with a prosthetic arm, which symbolizes past trauma throughout the story.

And how could you not have a traumatic experience living in the post-apocalyptic world George Miller cooked up. Obese naked women literally being milked like cattle, alien-like miniature dwarfs, two-headed lizards, pale-cult like crazies killing themselves for this eternal afterlife, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Very little amount of the previous films can prepare you for what you can see in this film, and very little of what you will see is glamorous.

The only glamorous parts of the film would be the ‘Five Wives.’ You have other somewhat notable actresses, such as Zoë Kravitz, known as ‘Christina’ from the Divergent (2013) series and Angel Salvador in X-Men: First Class (2013). You also have English model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, but modeling is probably the only way you would recognize her (aside from being Jason Statham’s girlfriend), considering her last existing non-existent role in Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon (2011). Together, these actresses are one of many Immortan’s wives, who he uses to breed and as his property, and are escaping his oppression in search of the ‘greenland.’

Final Verdict: A+

This is by far one of the best action films produced in recent memory. It’s much more than I thought it would be. Containing the best script of all the four films combined with a screenwriting and cinematography that compels you and completely draws you in. If you ever needed to know what a film would be like if it contained mostly action with very little plot or story involved, this would be would a film looked like.

Also the best thing I’ve see Tom Hardy featured in since ‘The Drop,’ and a huge step up from ‘Child 44 (2015).’ Although, his acting was a tad strange at times and it sounded like he just couldn’t shake that Russian accent he put on for that film, but he managed to pull through. Charlize Theron offers the best supporting role and this should easily land her at least a few nominating for ‘Best Supporting Actress,’ provided the Academy or the Golden Globes choose to go that route.

The overall film is enjoyable, even if you are completely unfamiliar with the Mad Max series. Beyond Thunderdome was probably beyond any redeemable factor, and considered the worst of the saga, Fury Road, gives the series the push it needs and you can most likely expect more sequels in the future.

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