Director: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne
Mad Max: Fury Road is co-written, directed, and produced by George Miller, and is the fourth installment in his Mad Max series of films, the last of which, Beyond Thunderdome, was released 30 years ago. Fury Road sees Tom Hardy step in for Mel Gibson as the titular character, fighting for survival in a post-nuclear fallout desert wasteland, after being captured by cult leader Immortan Joe and his gang of War Boys. Joe controls his city’s water supply, leaving everyone else at his mercy. He sends Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, on a mission to find gasoline. However, he realizes that she has taken his five wives from him in an attempt to rescue them, and soon a chase between Furiosa and Joe’s gang is underway with Max is caught in the middle of it all.
If the term “visionary” was ever used to describe someone, few deserve it more than George Miller. Hardly ever has a fictional world been brought to life so vividly and with such imagination like Miller’s post-apocalyptic war torn domain seen in this film. Miller had a clear vision of what he wanted to this film to be, and then meticulously crafted it to fit that vision perfectly. There are things that happen in this movie that I have never seen before in my life, things that I never could have even imagined. There are cars lined with explosives and giant spikes, people swinging on poles on top of speeding vehicles, a man playing an electric guitar that shoots flames out of its neck. Long story short, this movie is insane, and it all came from the mad mind of George Miller. This man has breathed life back into the summer blockbuster genre.
It seems that many modern day filmmakers and audiences alike have forgotten that there is an art to the action genre. Amongst the endless barrage of mindless and gratuitous explosions, guns, and CGI, directors seem to think that if their movie is loud enough, it’s exciting, when in fact, it’s anything but. In order for an action movie to work, it has to have risk, desperation, and high stakes. It has to be able to immerse you as a viewer and get you genuinely invested in the characters and their problems. You have to want to see the main characters make it out alive. After all, what good is a movie if you don’t care about anyone on screen? Luckily, Mad Max: Fury Road gets everything right and more. The action is masterfully handled with Miller behind the camera. He unapologetically puts you right in the middle of the action, which is raw, intense, and unrelenting. Some of the setpieces in this film are straight-up mind-blowing. On top of that, much of the effects in this film are practical, avoiding the banality and ubiquitousness of CGI. In Fury Road, when you see a dozen armor-plated vehicles exploding, that means that you’re seeing a dozen real armor-plated vehicles actually exploding. And when you see people jumping between two speeding cars, that means people actually jumped from one moving car to another. It’s moments like these where Miller took extra care to make sure that audiences would be immersed into his world, and it paid off. The action in this film is unlike anything I’ve seen in recent memory.
The two central characters, Tom Hardy’s Max and Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, are both fantastic. Interestingly, an argument could be made that this film called Mad Max is less about Max than it is about Furiosa. Although each gave commensurate performances, it’s Furiosa who’s story is most compelling. It’s great to see that a 36-year-old action franchise can still break new ground for the genre by placing a strong and powerful female character, with her own motivations and individuality, at the heart of its story.
In an era where the action genre is nearly dead and gone, Mad Max: Fury Road is absolutely, positively alive. From the very first scene, it grabs you by the throat, peels open your eyes, and keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat until the credits roll. It’s stylish, brutal, visceral, wild, and downright crazy. Even if the plot is slightly underdeveloped, were you really expecting to go in a Mad Max movie expecting a Shakespearean story? This is a movie that knows exactly what it is and has all the fun that it can possibly have. George Miller has truly crafted a unique and creative piece of cinema with this film. I highly recommend this film; chances are you’ve never seen anything quite like it. What a lovely day, indeed.