Movie Review: Mad Max Fury Road (2015)


To be frank and a little crass, very few movies leave me in a state of breathlessness, wonder and lingering arousal but George Millers' triumphant return to the post-apocalyptic punk wet dream world that he pioneered more than twenty years ago floored me. At the end of the film I was left ram-rod in my seat, blown away from the 'roided up circus maximus I had just witnessed. Not only that, but I feel it is safe to say that Charlize Therons' Imperator Furiosa has easily achieved the upper echelon of Alpha Female in science fiction right up there with Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley.

You think I'm exaggerating? Oh honey, not this time. This is indisputably Therons' film, more so than Hardy. This made me so supremely happy.

A direct sequel to Beyond Thunderdome, Fury Road continues to follow Max Rockatanskys' daily and anarchic mission of survival in a world gone bone. Mad Max Fury Road has no pretenses or vanity about itself and neither do the players involved which truly gives the film the sense that there is nothing in this world except the notion of trying to stay alive and attempting to cobble together if not maintain an identity about who and what you are. Power and influence is personified by the steering wheel, marked by the scrapes and benders you have on your car and the markings of which you happily bear. Money means jack, anything of monetary value is nothing more than a memory under the ashes of a volcano. The only thing that matters is fuel, the life force that keeps you and your car going, everything else is either a bonus or a burden. Those who have the wheel sway the will.

Fury Road really leaves you no time to refill your tidal capacity as almost every sequence is chockers (that's slang for 'chock-full' by the way) but you don't find yourself being upset by it. Given the very story is one giant chase, this isn't the sort of movie that is laden with Nolan-esque conversations of introversion and logic; this is about the imperatives of survival and the importance of staying alive.

Max finds himself through chance saddled with Imperator Furiosa, who is transporting a quintet of frightened women, known as The Wives way from their tyrant of a master, The Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also saw the business end of a truck grill as the Toecutter in the first film) who will stop at nothing to get his 'property' back. That's it. That is the story. Sounds almost mythological, doesn't it? In terms of the scope of the story the objective is perfectly straight forward, but it is the journey that grips you by the hair and drags you through the dirt at nitroglycerin speed through the desert. There is the Fast and Furious movies then there is... this.


Although the film doesn't really require deep characters I was still more than satisfied with our principal players. Hardy makes for a solid, stoic presence as Max who while not a bad man, prefers to stay out of business that doesn't concern him, but just as with the other movies, what he wants isn't what he gets and he needs to make do. Max isn't so much cold; he's just incredibly pragmatic. He does what he does to survive as does everybody else in the film and you can't hate a character for doing what you would do in such a bizarre, horrendous situation.

When not taking part in coronary-inducing scenes, Hardy actually delivers a lot of emotion with his eyes and his face in the quieter moments. I never had an issue with him being casted as Max either because if James Bond can have the face of a Scot, an Australian, a Welshie, and Irishman and finally a Brit, Max Rockatansky doesn't need to look like Mel Gibson. Max is a singular icon who is a legend and legends aren't limited to one face.

But by far and beyond the best character of the piece was, you guessed it, Theron as Furiosa. The woman is a beast, and that is not a term I use loosely or liberally. It takes a certain type of strong female character that makes me see her more or other than a human being and Theron is akin to ruthless goddesses of old. Nemesis, Brigid, Hecate, Morrigan, Kali are just some of the figures of myth I see in Furiosa and that is the best compliment I can give her.

Theron doesn't pose for the camera and pout her lips, she is a woman who is willing to give her very life to save The Wives from Immortan Joe and she will do anything she can to keep them safe. She is a warrior, a mother, a sister, a ruthless leader, an equal to Max in every way and her own person. What I love is that although she is powerful, she uses her power to help her charges rather than to use it as a means of strictly personal gain. Given there aren't enough great female characters carrying an action movie, Imperator Furiosa is a boot up the arse of that rarity. Since the sequel will be dedicated to her all I can say is "I'm yours.".

Fury Road is a god damned beast of a feast to behold to the eyes and the ears. There really is nothing I can gargle that you haven't read already or you haven't encountered from the bombastic trailers. This is a film that needs to be experienced first hand on a big screen in order to get maximum effect. Freakishly beautiful and brilliantly freakish, no expense was spared on the part of creativity in order to show the audience a world of attractive and appalling chaos filled with inhabitants who are not so much simply people anymore, but oddities.

Miller could only do so much in the first three films and it is no wonder he decided to wait until the time was right to further expand the demented epoch he had given genesis to. From what I read, 80% of the film is indeed practical with the remainder being due to further CGI enhancement, but rather than looking like a video game, the sorcery of CGI is used as the purpose it was designed for: to add to what was already there in the first place, for a little extra spice in the fiery, certifiable meatball. My compliments to everybody who risked their lives and pushed the envelope all for the butts who park themselves in cinema seats and bless Doctor Miller, who despite his advanced age has only got better as an action director.

Truly, the soundtrack of Fury Road with contribution from Junkie XL is one I feel the compulsion to buy or download  because of how frantic and kinetic it is and how it perfectly matches what your eyes behold on screen.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a raving starkers movie that really offers a no-holds-barred approach to a masterclass of action film making. Its goals are reached, its energy is unrivaled and all involved have put their all into showing you that they still do make action movies like they used to with a little more bonkers sprinkles on top. This long-awaited fourth installment has been well worth the baited breath between drinks when there was a period of which nobody was sure this was even going to be made. Thank whoever is listening that they got this one dead shot on the mark and delivering a true mould breaker.

Fan of the original trilogy or no, you owe it to yourself to see that breath-taking thrill rides can still be made with human willpower, ingenuity and the right combination of brilliance and questionable sanity.

Trivia: Hugh Keays-Byrne was a presenter on an Australian early childhood education program Play School. Cuz 'Straya.

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