Movie Review: ‘Mad Mad: Fury Road’
Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne
Plot: Still running from the demons of his past, former cop Max Rockatansky is trying to survive in the post-apocalyptic desert of the near future. He is captured for use as a ‘blood bag’ to sustain the radiation infected resource hoarders of ‘The Citadel’. From there he gets caught up in an escape attempt by the demented ruler’s harem.
Review: I spend my days working with teenage film students in Australia, and you’d be surprised how few of them are familiar with Mad Max, let alone seen it. At best they know it from references in other pop culture. So let’s recap.
Awesome Aussie film-maker capped out the era of Ozploitation (see doco Not Quite Hollywood for more information) with the down and dirty Mad Max. In it Mel Gibson played the original hero, a cop in a dystopian world where law and order are breaking down. When his wife and daughter are killed he goes on a kill crazy rampage best described as ‘mad’. It was a massive success. The sequel Mad Max: The Road Warrior was, surprising, even more awesome. The world has completely fallen apart and Max steps in to help a colony of survivors defend from a gang of marauders. The third film…well, Master Blaster is awesome but they still cast Tina Turner as a villain.
In the 30 years since Mad Max has been engrained in our culture, inspiring everything from Saw to Death Proof. George Miller has been making animated movies about dancing penguins and, apparently, stowing away every demented, batshit crazy idea in a corner of his brain until he got shit together enough to make another sequel.
The constant stream of remakes and reboots initially make this seem like a dumb idea, but George Miller is bringing his old-school, less CGI the better style back to the screen and they ditched the ageing and increasingly unlikeable Mel Gibson. Some purists my get snotty about this recasting, but the franchise is 90% style and action, 10% character development. Tom Hardy has got this.
Anyway, Fury Road. I should talk about that one. Did you see the trailer? It’s that. And glorious. Miller is all about the show rather than tell and exposition takes a back seat to visual splendour. The Citadel, our first stop, introduces us to an imaginatively rich world. The radiation infused soldiers and leaders of the Citadel look disturbingly fantastic with their scars and tumours, and their resource farms at a great sci-fi element to this otherwise sandy dystopia.
Production on Fury Road must’ve felt like Disneyland for the art production and stunt teams. The movie looks amazing. Every madcap idea they came up with is in there. Evil deformed clown things playing flame throwing guitars atop a truck? Cars lifted from Peter Weir’s The Cars That Ate Paris? Cars build out of several cars jammed together? Put it in there! Fuck yeah! Every band of survivors from the Citadel cultists, the dirt bike mountain dwellers and the bullet farmers all have their own unique look. The stunt work and practical effects keep the action rough, gritty and dangerous. It’s not uncommon to flinch as twisted chunks of metal and casually flung enemies fly past the screen.
There’s a solid cast bringing all this to the screen, and happily none of them are playing this tongue in cheek. There’ve gone into this to bring the world to life. God bless them for going all out.
If you wanted to see a bigger and better Mad Max for the modern age, this delivers. If you want an action movie that delivers none stop brutality without the bullshit characters and shitty story of Transformers, this is it. If you watched the trailer and just want to see that for another 2 hours you’re going to fucking get it. See it on a big ass screen with a massive sound system. The bombastic opera-metal soundtrack was literally shaking the cinema and it was awesome.
Chalk this one up as a win.
Rating: NINE out of TEN