Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

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DIR: George Miller • WRI: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris • PRO: George Miller, Doug Mitchell, P.J. Voeten Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae • DOP: John Seale • ED: Jason Ballantine, Margaret Sixel • DES: Colin Gibson • MUS: Junkie XL • CAST: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

 

In a post-apocalyptic world of sand, dirt and orange hue, we find our hero, the one they call ‘Mad’, on the run from a gang of cheering, war-painted men bounding along in enormous vehicles. In spite of his efforts to escape, Max (Tom Hardy) is captured and brought to the town of Citadel. The leader of Citadel is Immortan Joe (clad in a Bane-like mask), who claims himself to be the redeemer of the townspeople. But not all are happy with his leadership and when a truck headed for the local gas town takes a detour, Immortan Joe sends out a war party. The driver of the truck is a warrior called Furiosa (Charlize Theron), whose life is about to collide with Max’s with full force.

From the opening sequence’s fast-motion shots, rapid editing, and hallucinogenic flashbacks of a child, we quickly realise one of the main objectives of Mad Max: Fury Road is to create a visual experience. From the opening shot, director George Miller (whose other major credit, beside the Mad Max films, is Happy Feet, oddly enough) drops us straight into Max’s world. As our protagonist stands by his car looking out on the desert horizon, a two-headed futuristic lizard slithers past. A voiceover informs us that human instinct has been reduced to a single motive – survival. It is a simple premise that has been brought to the big screen time and time again, but it is utilised effectively here nonetheless.

Having George Miller direct this reboot was definitely the right call. Having directed all three of the previous instalments of the franchise – Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – this is a world that Miller knows like the back of his hand. What’s more, with Fury Road being produced thirty years after the last Mad Max instalment, Miller is allowed to realise his vision to a bigger and better extent than ever before, mostly as a result of the major enhancements that have been made in computer generated effects since. At the same time, Miller does not rely on CGI or use it in an annoyingly overextended way either, and the production design of costumes, sets, make-up, etc. is essential and brilliantly accomplished in the capturing of this futuristic vision. The vehicles, locations and action sequences are more imaginative than any of the previous Mad Max instalments. Not only that, but Fury Road also stands out as one of the best action movies that has been produced in years.

There are car chases and explosions aplenty. The action is non-stop and the choreography impressive and often surprising. The characterisation is also right on point. Whether Hardy is better than Gibson at playing the enigmatic hero is debatable, but Charlize Theron shines as the strong-willed Furiosa while Nicholas Hoult is a hoot to watch in the role of the crazy but endearing Nux. Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also starred in the original Mad Max, is brilliantly grotesque and terrifying as the villain Immortan Joe with sidekick Nathan Jones, aka strongman competitor Megaman, on hand as the muscular brute Rictus Erectus.

Whether the viewer is young and unfamiliar with the Mel Gibson version of the films (young people should really be required to watch some of these films in school…), or prepared and willing to go back to this post-apocalyptic insane future, Mad Max: Fury Road is a thrilling, immersive experience for all.

 

Deirdre Molumby

 15A (See IFCO for details)

120 minutes
Mad Max: Fury Road is released 15th May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road – Official Website

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