Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

Just when you think George Miller couldn’t possibly find more ways to push that unkillable yet seldom spoken Road Warrior Max Rockatansky through the post-apocalyptic wasteland littered with broken men and even broker sanity, he concocts yet another technical and visually groundbreaking, continuity-challenged yet thematically skewed feature to do just that in his latest feature called Fury Road.

The film opens with the title character, with Tom Hardy taking the mantle of Mad Max from Mel Gibson, haunted by the ghosts of the world he knew before and the world he knows now. He becomes a prisoner of the, let’s call them, “cronies” of Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, a grotesque albino warlord hoarding natural resources from his followers. The plot of Mad Max: Fury Road is sparked by one of Joe’s top lieutenants.

Imperator Furiosa, played by Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, was assigned to retrieve provisions from different territories for Joe’s citadel but instead seized a chance to take Joe’s concubine’s, played by Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton, from his captivity possession and deliver them somewhere called “The Green Place,” a supposed sanctuary from Joe’s sadistic influence.

Mad Max: Fury Road is what it is and what it is an avalanche of visually beautiful chaos that just keeps coming at you hellbent to drive the anarchy and insanity past the point of in your face and just ram it down your gullet.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: most of the time, you have no idea what the hell is going on in this movie but it really doesn’t matter. That’s the status quo of the Mad Max franchise; no one really knows what the hell is going on but as long as the action is there and the mesmerizing visuals keep you interested, audiences are satisfied.

Image by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

To prepare myself for seeing Mad Max: Fury Road I had to binge watch the entire franchise and my general impression was: meh. I just did it so I would know what I was getting into and Fury Road was I believe George Miller’s attempt to redeem himself and fall back in the rhythm of The Road Warrior. In fact, one could argue that Furiosa’s character trying to bring Joe’s women to her childhood homeland is a metaphor for what Miller wants to accomplish, bring audiences back to what made Mad Max a popular franchise to begin with and the reason/premise for that is the same for both Furiosa and Miller: redemption.

The film is basically a chaotic steroid/hallucinogenic that never wears off. Everything you see is pretty even at it’s most hideous form, but don’t look for answers here, because it won’t give any.

Is Tom Hardy a worthy successor to Mel Gibson for the Mad Max legacy? Eh, sure. There isn’t really much you can do with the character of Mad Max though, so that really isn’t saying much.

I’d say the only memorable character, and in a movie filled with memorable characters that’s saying something, that possibly outshined Theron was the Doof Warrior, played by iOta, the guitar player giving a soundtrack to the mayhem of the movie. He was f***ing awesome!

I can’t say much about the acting in this movie. Hardy, Theron, the brides, Nicholas Hoult’s performance, Keays-Byrne, audiences aren’t going to this movie to see them but they make an impression; they fuel the madness-induced trip that is this movie.

Junkie XL’s music, the art direction of Shira Lockton and Jacinta Leong, Colin Gibson’s production design, the make-up team and, of course, the visual effects department stole the show in my opinion. They built this world to adhere to Miller’s imagination and they did so splendidly.

Mad Max: Fury Road is fueled on adrenaline, insanity, a heavy-metal persona and unapologetic relentlessness that slows down when it has to and accelerates when it needs to. It is a well-paced picture, that has my respect, do I praise it as a masterpiece or a champion summer-blockbuster? No.

Like mostly everything steeped in 80’s culture, if you can call it that, I couldn’t really take the Mad Max franchise seriously when I watched the previous three films. I didn’t exactly enjoy them but I found the entertainment quality worthwhile and that is what the new installment has going for it: entertainment quality.

Audiences will wonder why George Miller chose to make Mad Max: Fury Road and once the film is digested and you have time to think about it, it’s likely that the answer will be the same as the one I found: he made this movie because he could.

I’d recommend seeing the film if you are a fan of the Mad Max franchise, if you are into heavy-metal, or want to watch a visually stunning sandstorm sequence. If any of this isn’t your cup of tea, pass.

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