FURY ROAD is a delirious roller coaster ride – the wooden kind, that shakes the f**k out of you, until you’re worried that you’re going to fall out and plummet to your death.
GEORGE MILLER’s latest MAD MAX adventure tests your limits, posing an imposing question: How much action and anxiety can an audience handle? It’s the SPINAL TAP version of a chase flick, where the insanity gets cranked to 11. We are instantly thrown into the action without any guidance as to what’s going on.
To put it simply – TOM HARDY (as Max) is on the run from the opening scene through to the end.
Some set-pieces were staged like they were set on the open seas. FURY ROAD felts like a pirate movie. The sandstorm felt more like a raging tempest, with winds as destructive as waves.
The baddies’ offensive strategy and boarding methods really felt like a battle at sea. The antagonists use weapons like explosive harpoons (boom-sticks) and use long pendulum poles to board. Oh, and the captive Max even acts as a head-mast of a ship early on.
Hardy is a primal presence, more animal than a character. This feral beast is caged early on. But let’s face it… this is mother flickin’ Mad Max here. He won’t be caged for long.
This cult classic action hero (originally played by MEL GIBSON in the late 70s) was a prototype for our man Logan (WOLVERINE) and John McClane. Translation: this dude DIEs HARD.
We follow Max as he leaps out of the frying pan and into the fire. Each action scenario one-ups the previous with orchestrated crescendos of blood and flame. This aria of carnage will satisfy action flick purists angered by the contemporary shift to CG Wonderland.
The ridiculous stunts of FURY ROAD are mostly achieved through practical effects – ie: images caught on camera during filming.
These cars really crash – and you can tell.
MAD MAX spins tradition on its head. We have seen a lot of post apocalyptic movies, but they are rarely as rich in culture as FURY ROAD. There are specific costumes and traditions that demonstrate class and structure among society.
We get stuff like nursing mothers farmed for their milk, spray-painted grills (re: chromed mouths to honour death and entrance into Valhallah), a merry band leading the war party (like Scottish bag-pipes leading the way on the Highlands), and a multitude of gross and strange elements (like boils, missing noses, Cesarean birthing).
Complimenting the strange scenery is a strange sense of humour. There was a lot of dry sarcasm perforating the carnage.
The plot isn’t so important in a MAD MAX movie. The introduction provided little context, with barely recognizable goals.
The best story elements involve FURIOUSA (played by CHARLIZE THERON with alternating ruthlessness and gentleness).
The big bad baddie controls all resources – gas, bullets, water, and babies. Furiousa hatches a plan to free his captive wives and escape to a green utopia.
To briefly touch on the other characters… TOE-CUTTER (from the 1979 original) returns to the MAD MAX franchise, with the actor playing the main villain in this entry as well. He’s a sort of DARTH VADER by way of DUNE. He controls the world’s resources and hunts down some his escaped resources.
ROSIE HUNTINGTON-WHITELY portrays his pregnant bride. Furiousa escorts several brides (including ZOE KRAVITZ) hidden within her tanker.
Somewhere along their escape they encounter Max.
The surprisingly strong feminist angle strengthens the merits of FURY ROAD. While Max takes a more background role in the story, Furiousa boldly leads the way.
Theron portrays the only multi-dimensional character in the movie, with relatable motives and emotions. Furiousa is MOSES in this movie – she’s frees her people from slavery on a journey to the promised land.
Furiousa and Max also share a common thread, as both are driven by memories – nearly to the brink of insanity.
The real highlight of the latest MAD MAX is the balletic direction of GEORGE MILLER, adrenaline-fueled chases, and glorious seduction of twisted metal.
While we do get more cinematic story elements like character arcs from unlikely characters like NICHOLAS HOULT’s Doofo, the impressive stunt-work and sheer spectacle eclipse anything in the screenplay.
When FURY ROAD fires on all cylinders it’s a true sight to behold. A truly visceral experience. An action movie that makes you feel like you’re in a blender. George Miller’s latest grabs you by the shoulders and shakes the crap out of you.
The only thing restraining all this momentum is a weak story with some slow patches and an under-utilized Hardy (who disappears for a good chunk in the second act).
Strap in. Fasten your seatbelt. And enjoy the car-wreck.
FURY ROAD jostles you about, leaving you with severe whiplash. This crazy action flick is more of an experience than a story.
George Miller’s symphonic stuntwork epic fully delivers on what it promises the audience: carnage on a grand scale.
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