Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton
Plot: Mad Max (Hardy) wanders into the middle of a confrontation between an immortal warlord (Keays-Byrne) and his vigilante Imperator, Furiosa (Theron).
The most accurate review for Mad Max: Fury Road so far is actually just a stray tweet I managed to catch online. “Mad Max is a film made with the Caps Lock on.” Five minutes in and this is true. Miller is definitely all about the visuals of the third sequel to his classic post-apocalyptic movie franchise. The colour palette is gorgeous and the cinematography is to die for. The first action sequence is slightly sped up, almost as if someone hit the fast forward button during the editing process by accident. It creates this frenzied, high octane feeling that is hard to keep up with, but makes the fights so much more hard-hitting. It is impressive just watching the fighters react to events as quick as they do, Tom Hardy leaping from wall to wall and dealing serious counter blows. It also helps you get into the mind-set of the madness. It is very believable that this is how Max actually views the world now. George Miller creates a Mad Max experience like none we have ever seen before, attacking the big screen with intensity not seen since 300. This is especially true when we get to the car chases. Explosions are used with gloriously reckless abandonment. Seeing as the movie is pretty much entirely set in a continuous car chase, almost making The Road Warrior irrelevant in terms of action, Miller does well to keep things fresh and exciting. Cars aren’t just totalled; they are blown up, flipped over, crushed – mangled bodies flying across the screen in hilariously brutal ways. The vehicles get crazier and crazier. Bandits drive tanks that resemble hedgehogs. One vehicles only job is to carry the ten storey speaker for the gang’s guitarist, during the chase sequence. Every new appearance is a ‘what the hell am I watching’ moment, as you either scoff or laugh out loud at the audacity of Miller’s creation. You cannot help but admire the man at some points. This is definitely a film to see in the cinema, the big screen and surround sound getting across the impact the director wants his latest Mad Max to convey. The problem is that one wonders if the movie will be any good, when we get to it on DVD.
About 40 minutes in, you get bored. The visuals are great and all, but there is a definite lack of substance going on. Miller enjoys the fact that you only kind of know what is going on. You get the idea that the bad guy has his own religion, based on the fact he holds a vast reserve of water, and he has selected women for ‘breeding’ purposes. His Imperator (Charlize Theron in the performance of the movie), betray him, freeing them and going on the run. The rest is to be guessed with Mad Max swept along for the ride, rather than being a part of the conflict. The non-stop action makes it rather hard to bond with anyone. Even Max is a lot crazier than Mel Gibson left him, something snapping in the character a long time ago. The gaggle of girls that are being freed struggle to break through with too little time spent developing them. They all try to hammer home their various personalities, but Furiosa is the only one worth spending time with. The movie does eventually slow down and it does start improving. We get a wider idea of the story. The girls try to do something with their characters and even if it is a little too late in the day, the effort just about saves the story. Mad Max slowly becomes that character we loved again. And then the action comes back in. And this time, it is the finale, so it feels right. The craziness of the action is doubled, the visuals are stunning once again and the deaths are wondrous to behold. Just as you were starting to lost interest, you are captivated again, wondering exactly where the film is going to end up and who is going to make it to the end. In short, this film might lose some of the old fans, but it is bound to pick up some new ones.
It is the little details that made Fury Road worth watching for me. The little quirks of each cult and tribe. Some of the reveals in the back story of the gang are a little stomach-turning. The grotesqueness of the characters is gritty. While it seems like the kind of narrative that leaves little time to explore anything, Miller makes time. The gang cross a swamp with a group of people that have adapted to living in it. The cronies working for the bad guy have their own set of beliefs and routines. It seems like there is a universe waiting to be explored behind every corner and that, to me, makes great Sci-Fi. I wouldn’t call this film great, per se, but it does have a certain weight that made it worth the price of a cinema ticket.
Final Verdict: While the lack of story hits the middle hard, overall Fury Road is a crazy, adrenaline-pumping experience.