I’ve been fortunate enough to finally see this film in cinema, even though it is most definitely on its last legs before the Blu-Ray/DVD release, and during a time when I could have gone to see Minions instead. But when you take the time to watch the original trilogy before seeing this, then it is only right to finish what I started. So, Mad Max: Fury Road, or Mad Max 4, or in some cases perhaps Mad Max 5, if you count Mad Max: Renegade, but that doesn’t really count.
So what can be said about the film? Mad Max: Fury Road follows what I’ve already said before about the other Mad Max movies, that it is a standalone episode. A story within itself that doesn’t require the others to provide significant details. Once again, our hero is Max Rocktansky, who at the beginning of the film is captured by a group known as The War Boys (who are white as sheets with skeleton-eque make-up design). He is eventually utilised as a resource, more so than a slave to them. While attempting to escape, he realises where he is. A place known as the Citadel, which is ruled with an iron fist by a man named Immortan Joe, who owns everything, including the water. When Joe’s top Imperator and a war rig driver, known as Furiosa, decided to steal his favourite wives while making it look like she was going on an errand to collect oil, all hell breaks loose. A sickly War Boy named Nux (played by Nicholas Hoult, who played Marcus from About A Boy. He’s all grown up!) wants to join the chase, and goes as far as to bring his “blood bank”, which he uses for physical recovery. His blood bank? Max, bound in chains, with a drip stuck in his neck and a face mask that doesn’t look particularly liberating.
Mad Max Fury Road is without a doubt 1 of the best films I’ve ever come across when it comes to the approach of “Show, don’t tell”. We’re shown Max’s torment through visions and hallucinations of a young girl. Is she someone he couldn’t save? Quite likely. We’re also shown how Immortan Joe keeps his power. Despite being evidently sick and elderly, he puts on a costume that presents him as a strong and terrifying man, even to the point of having clear plastic moulded into the shape of a body builder and presumably an oxygen mask that’s designed to look like a scary set of gnashers. We’re shown how he’s a man with at least 2 of everything. How he uses men for their blood and women for their milk and baby-making capabilities, and of course, the desperate, starving and thirsty town’s folk, who have been lead to believe that he is a divine being.
The acting in Fury Road is fantastic. Everybody has a look of desperation and survival in their eyes, and while Mel Gibson was great as Max in the late 70s/early 80s, I’m not sure if he could have pulled off what Tom Hardy did in this film, even in his physical prime. To say the least, Tom makes an awesome Max. But 1 major surprise that shows itself in this film, or is it even a surprise at all? Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa is 1 of the best female action heroes to come out in quite a while…in a film I mean. She has a presence about her that I haven’t seen from a female action hero since Sigourney Weaver played Ripley in the Alien franchise, which really says something. The return of the actor Hugh Keays-Bryne is also quite a big deal to this film, as he originally played The Toecutter (the main villain) in the original Mad Max back in 1979. Though he plays a different character, it is a very welcome form of continuity, as he played Immortan Joe just as well as he played the Toecutter (but different).
The characters in Fury Road are awesome. From Tom Hardy playing a version of Max that had clearly seen a lot and wasn’t desensitised by it, to Charlize Theron playing a kick ass heroine, to Immortan Joe being weak, strong and scary, to his brides having a lot more guts than your usual beautiful damsels in film, to Nux being a young man divided by his dedication to “God” (Joe) and his desire to both help and “go to Valhalla”, to this film making some of the most kick-ass grannies outside of Japanese Anime (Furiosa’s tribe).
The Music in this film is very different to previous films for 2 reasons. One reason is because it’s a completely different composer, as both Brian May (1 and 2) and Maurice Jarre (Beyond Thunderdome) had both passed away in 1997 and 2009 respectively. This time the music was handled by Tom Holkenberg, also known as Junkie XL, a Dutch multi-instrumentalist. His scores for this film remind me a lot of Hans Zimmer’s score for The Dark Knight Rises, mixed with some dramatic strings, fast, heavy drums and some electronica. It was a fantastic sound! Perfect for this film. A pure adrenaline rush.
The Action Scenes…my word, the action scenes. After seeing Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, some could argue that Fury Road is George Miller returning to his roots or being in top form, and that the man probably felt like a 30 year old again when he was making it. It was clear that after Twilight Zone: The Movie, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was very toned down and much safer compared to Mad Max 2: Road Warrior. But when making Fury Road, I think he realised just how good CGI has gotten…and also realised “I can make a really dangerous looking film, and nobody has to risk injury or death…Awesome!”. It shows. He went absolutely bonkers in his depictions of road-violence, explosions and death. And in the process, he has made the film he probably always wanted to make. One that would kill everybody working on it in the 1980s, but not today.
The cinematography is once again in top form (something that is consistently fantastic throughout the series), I don’t really need to discuss it. It’s perfect.
Would I recommend Mad Max Fury Road? Yes! And what’s even better is you don’t need to see the Mel Gibson trilogy to enjoy it! Is there no story? Not really. It’s just really simple. However, I couldn’t find a single minute of this film that wasn’t entertaining. Which is something that only the best films can pull off. As good as Mad Max 2: Road Warrior was, this 1 is better. It has a better Max, a better cast of characters, an excellent score, cinematography that was on par with ‘2, a fantastic musical score, an easy-to-digest story that isn’t boring, and phenomenal action scenes.