Review: Mad Max – Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. George Miller, 2015) – In the stark desert of a bleak future, Max pursue survival and Furiosa, hope, in her distant memories of her childhood homeland.

Verdict

This berserk epic montage subverts and exceeds expectations, portraying purposeful action with surprising depth.

5/5

Review

Civilisation has collapsed. Modern cities of pipes and steel have crumbled into a primitive wasteland. In the post-apocalyptic future, familiar drifter Max (Tom Hardy) is driven to run on his instinct to survive, when he falls into the hands of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his army of scavengers.

Against the landscape of sand dunes and muck, the vivid azure sky stands as a stark reminder of the world that once was. Specks of green are reserved for the privilege, as the rest are left scrambling for basic needs in the desert. Born into poverty, the people know no alternative to servitude. But Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) finds hope to rebel in her childhood memories of a better place.

Mad Max: Fury Road
A Furiosa spin-off, please?

Leaving the build-up to its predecessors, Mad Max: Fury Road races straight into our heroine’s insurgent ride, with its titular leather-clad hero riding shotgun. The leaders of the uprising put up a tireless fight as both predator and prey through a taut adventure. Fuelled by insanity, relentless road rage immerses the audience in a surreal fever dream of heavy metal artillery and feral warboys.

Back from the first Mad Max and more demented than before, Hugh Keays-Byrne is not the only familiar face. Also making a welcome return is the original trilogy’s director George Miller, who full-on embraces madness 30 years on. Revamping the mythos with distinct steampunk embellishments, his vibrant vision retains faint echoes and at the same time, outshines his own Mel Gibson-starring masterworks.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Directed by George Miller (Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet). Can’t wait to see his spiritual sequels to those films.

Accompanied by Junkie XL’s aptly exhilarating score, Miller and the phenomenal stunt performers (see: Dayna Grant’s amazing on-set photos) give the mayhem top billing. Favouring practical effects, they recruit an assortment of compellingly offbeat tendencies.

Swaying metronome warriors are only outshone by the Coma-Doof Warrior (iOTA) – a marionette rock guitarist complete with flamethrowers – because… why the hell not? The resulting imagery is eccentric, brutal, and beautifully so.

Such wild action and production design deserve to get most talking. But what is most impressive is the subtle storytelling that emerges unfrayed by explosive set pieces. Each action has purpose, hinting at the characters’ layered histories or communicating nuanced symbolism.

There is comment, in women raised for nurture apposed to men, for war. There is function, from the foot soldiers’ tattoos to Furiosa’s prosthetic arm. In every scene and visual decision, the close attention to detail far exceed exposition.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Steampunk tug-o-war.

From untold stories of disabilities and unspoken motivations behind their actions, the characters develop strong personalities with emotional depth. That is even with the striking scarcity of lines and strong focus on combat.

Anger surrounding the prominence of Furiosa and the Wives only serves to cast a disheartening reminder of how rarely women in film get to shine in diverse and well-developed roles like these, while remaining agents of their own destiny.

With all its well-earned praise, Fury Road is not all perfect. Frenetic cuts leave some action sequences disorienting. The prevalent issue in modern cinema seems negligible amid thoroughly spectacular and unique ambition, where high-octane thrills are as purposeful as quieter moments. A unique blast of fresh air and certainly the best of the franchise thus far, this is as close to Valhalla as an action fan can get.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Review: Mad Max – Fury Road (2015)

        1. Absolutely, his vision is incredible. And a successful remake – I never saw that coming! Fury Road feels surprisingly original despite echoes of the original source, and makes a rare case for reboots.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. On that note, even Thunderdome had echoes of Road Warrior in it. Heck Bruce Spence played a different pilot in both films!

            One thing I’ve noticed — few story summaries and reviews are emphasizing Max. It seems the movie is more Furiosa’s?

            Liked by 1 person

          2. You’re right, this is definitely Furiosa’s story more than Max’s. I personally didn’t mind it one bit. While Max fights for his own survival, Furiosa had stronger motivations stemmed from hope for a better world. Partly why this movie stood out as more than just an action film.

            Charlize Theron (and her stuntswoman) stole the show, but I’d have to add that Tom Hardy (and his stuntsman) held his own!

            Liked by 1 person

          3. I really like Charlize as a performer. She’s fantastic. She was one of the best things about Prometheus. Perhaps that Mad Max Furiosa sequel could happen, since this one is being so well received!

            Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s