Mad Max: Fury Road Review

I live. I die. I LIVE AGAIN!


Fury Road is a pretty much a two hour car chase through one of the most visually striking post apocalyptic worlds I have seen on film. It’s absolutely stunning to watch the carnage (or should that be CAR-nage) unfold.

Fury Road is more reminiscent of the Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome than of the original Mad Max, with the world already plunged into a barren post apocalyptic state. There has always been quite a bit of debate about how the original films are linked since there are never any concrete connections or logical flow between the original trilogy, they just kind of exist without any major connecting tissue. This is very much the case with Fury Road, we are given small nods to the original trilogy all over the place that can be taken both as indications of past events or just simply references buried in amongst the hectic action.

Tom Hardy takes the Mad Max mantle from Mel Gibson for this adventure. He is instantly captured and he and his iconic V8 interceptor are taken to the lair of the big bad of the film Immortan Joe. Hugh Keays-Byrne who, as it happens, also played the main villain Toe Cutter in the original Mad Max plays Joe. When we are first introduced to him we see his is badly scarred and needs a strange breathing apparatus to live. We are never given an explanation for his condition, which some will find frustrating I’m sure but I wasn’t really bothered by it. It falls in the Mad Max ethos of leaving the backstory ambiguous, leaving it up to the viewer’s imagination to fill in the blanks if they so wished. For example if you are familiar with the original Mad Max you could see that perhaps Immortan Joe is Toe Cutter and maybe the scars are from his run in with Mel Gibson’s Max. Whether he is or he isn’t is entirely up to the viewer.

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Joe is the leader of a cult like society of motor heads, there is a lot of religious symbolism relating to cars and car parts, treating them almost like precious relics. The War Boys, Joe’s fanatical fodder, are at the fore front of his rule. It is seen as a great honour to be picked by Joe to go out on fuel runs and hunting parties and being able to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. They are taught not to fear death, Joe has promised tem an after life creating a legion of devoted and sacrificial warriors. “I live, I die, I live again” the War Boys chant having no qualms about dying expecting to see the other side, they spray chrome over their mouths before ritualistically before committing their sacrificial acts.

It’s important to point out that although the film is called Mad Max, Max is not really the hero here, Charlize Theron is. Max is the supporting character. In fact after the opening scene and Max’s small narration he is almost absent until about half an hour in, and silent for even longer. Which may be a good thing, Hardy puts on a slight Australian twang for his gruff Max but the longer he talks the more I heard him slipping into Bane so having him communicate with growls, grunts and nods is less distracting.

Theron plays Furiosa, a character I would put up there alongside Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor. She is one of Joe’s top drivers who when we are introduced to her is setting out on a standard fuel run. We later find out that she has taken Joe’s most prized possessions, his brides. Thus one of the most epic char chases committed to film begins and it does not let up until the credits.

Nicolas Hoult joins the fray as Nux, one of Joe’s War Boys. Out to recapture Furiosa and the brides. He is the most interesting character starting out fanatically devoted to Joe and his order but gradually having his “faith” tested falling in love with one of Joe’s brides he is torn between helping Furiosa & Max and staying the course and fulfilling his “destiny”.

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The action is stunning and inherently 80s. Practical effects reign supreme here, when two cars smash into each other and explode in a ball of fire George Miller simply smashes two cars into each other, on a monumental scale. The choreography of the car chases must have been a massive undertaking for the stunt and special effects crew.

Along the way we meet other gangs and factions joining Joe’s enormous search party. Each gang or tribe has a different feel from the clothes they wear to the vehicles they ride into battle.

The heavy metal soundtrack is actually provided by one of Immortan Joe’s disciples, a man who is literally strapped to the front of some death machine loaded with amps with a flaming guitar in his hands. It’s insane in all the right ways. It may sound mad to describe but it almost makes sense for this man to exist. He plays music that fits the mood and pace of the scene which just shouldn’t work but somehow isn’t an issue which just goes to show how stylistically bonkers George Miller is.

The special effects make a pleasant (albeit chaotic) change from the current trend of blockbuster films in that practical effects reign supreme here. When two cars smash into each other head on, two cars really do smash into each other head on. The special effects and stunts teams have to be applauded for the explosive choreographed stunts on display here. The downside of all these practical effects is that when there is the occasional CGI car part you do notice it, which pulls you out of the experience momentarily. Fury Road has a world that just feels so visceral and so real and also…very orange. The colour palate isn’t all that varied ranging from dark orange to light orange with the occasional blue thrown in here and there, but the action is so ferocious you rarely have time to take in any single shot.

My biggest gripe with the film is Max’s backstory, now I know I said Mad Max films don’t need a backstory and they don’t. The problem here is Max is plagued short violent flashbacks and hallucinations to his murdered family so we start to see a backstory, while these look very cool they are never expanded upon in any way. They seem to be important to Max’s goal but since Max is almost mute we never get any pay off. It may be examined in sequels but here it just seemed redundant, we don’t get enough information to care about what’s going on inside Max’s messed up head.

One thing is for certain this film embodies the spirit of Mad Max through and through and is one hell of a ride.

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Genre: Action / Post-Apocalyptic / Science Fiction / Adventure / Thriller

Age Rating: 15

Runtime: 120 Mins

Film Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

So what do you think? Have a think and let us know in the comments section below.


– Dan P

 

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