“Mad Max: Fury Road is MUST-SEE entertainment. It’s grisly and intense. It’s rugged and bloodthirsty and yet it is smart with its unique balance of dual heroic leads in Hardy’s Max and Theron’s Furiosa.”
US Release date: May 15, 2015
Director: George Miller
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Holt, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Zoë Kravitz
Running time: 120 minutes
MPAA rating: R
“My name is Max. My world is fire and blood.”
Tom Hardy’s gravelly pause during “fire and blood” creates an electricity that does not diminish for the entire two hours of this smash-mouth post-apocalyptic roller coaster ride. The pacing of Mad Max: Fury Road can only be described as frenetically off-beat; the opening scene quickly re-establishes the desolate landscape from the previous three Mel Gibson movies which were made over thirty years ago.
George Miller’s Fury Road is unapologetic in it’s unpredictable intensity; deftly maneuvering Max Rockatansky into a series of events that can only be labeled “unfortunate”…even for the dystopian wasteland. Fury Road’s intense pacing creates an exquisite series of “blink and you’ll miss it” glimpses into Max’s hellish existence; the “Citadel” is littered with boil-covered, sun-blistered savages and garishly painted “War Boys” lead by the grim Immortan Joe.
Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Max Rockatansky is gruff compared to Mel Gibson’s plucky rendition of the character. Fury Road’s Max seem a lot more tortured and detached. Billed equally with Hardy, Charlize Theron plays Imperator Furiosa, an amputee who is one of Immortan Joe’s key underlings. Theron’s Furiosa is front and center for a majority of the story; in fact, it seems more like her story as Max drifts into her trajectory right as she betrays Immortan Joe by stealing some very precious items from him. Nicholas Hoult rounds out the cast of major players as Nux, a War Boy who has a change of heart during the Joe’s pursuit of Max and Furiosa.
It should be noted that Miller’s use of actor Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe, the film’s “big bad”, should create a sense of synergistic fanfare for hardcore followers of the Mad Max franchise. Keays-Byrne also played Toecutter, the main villain of the original Mad Max in 1979.
In terms of story and content, the over-arc is almost entirely vexing once you get past the furious pace of the movie. Essentially, it’s a post-apocalyptic gear-head/ chase movie mash-up full of violent car and motorcycle calamity in the middle of sand storms, dunes, and ominous boggy areas. The speed only decreases for moments of necessary exposition to drive the linear story forward. Miller’s Fury Road excels because the breakneck pace underscores the various numbers of conflicts that are present for all the players both good and bad.
Laughably, the current news of Men’s Rights Activists having their manties in a twist over Fury Road’s empowered cast of females may have viewers spending an inordinate amount of time fixating on Theron’s Furiosa or any number of the female cast members who are compelled to defy Immortan Joe. Let’s just say this: these MRA goons are clueless. In the previous Mad Max films, the prevalent themes of warring remnants fighting over oil/ gasoline and water prevailed and they are still relevant in Fury Road; but, the third commodity of human flesh (mostly females for the purpose of procreation) looms much larger in the scope of this story. The apex of the movie proves that Max is the hero of the film…but Furiosa is equally the heroine. Fury Road’s Mad Max ends the story much like he began it as he melds back into the dust and sand that bore him.
The cinematic photography has a few bumpy elements due to the necessity for 3-D shots and motion-capture but, all in all, you lose track of the fact that 80% of the film is blue sky on orange sand because the focused intensity of the chase rarely diminishes. The color pallet of the movie is sumptuous with an array of warm, arid colors during the break-neck daytime sequences and there are fantastically mirrored dark blue nighttime pauses that sort of transform the desert into this inky nightmare where anything can come for Max and crew from any direction. The special effects/ make-up crew for this film deserve Oscar-Worthy praise for all of the ornate body modification prosthetics, disgusting boils and tumors, as well as the terrifyingly visionary creation of Immortan Joe’s visage and the look of the various gangs and savages. The vehicles themselves seem to take on their own identities as they bang against one another in the desert wastes. Again, noting Oscar-Worthy praise, the stunt coordinator and his team execute some of the most imperiled, gut-wrenching maneuvers between the flaming, smoking vehicular monstrosities.
If you’re looking for a break from superhero mega-event movies (because everyone knows you’ve already seen Age of Ultron twice) or you’re still clamoring for more quality science fiction and fantasy after you were impressed by Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road is MUST-SEE entertainment. It’s grisly and intense. It’s rugged and bloodthirsty and yet it is smart with its unique balance of dual heroic leads in Hardy’s Max and Theron’s Furiosa. The real treat, however, resides in the lush colors and the beautiful cacophony of this ultra-violent post-apocalyptic thriller. Mad Max has been reborn thanks to Tom Hardy.