Director: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Running time: 120 minutes
Let’s face it: Mad Max: Fury Road was never going to be an artistic masterpiece with delicacy and a convenient level of restraint. 30 years since George Miller last created a film within his vision of the post-apocalyptic Australian road movie, he’s back with Tom Hardy as the eponymous Mad Max, or Max Rockatansky.
You’d have thought that the 30 year break might have mellowed him out, but time seems to have rejuvenated, even strengthened Miller’s directing and ideas around energy, movement, and misé en scene. Admittedly that’s a weird phrase to apply to Mad Max, but Miller successfully reconstructs the feel of the older films while using an excellent combination of practical effects and CGI to increase the scope and visual impressiveness of the film. This comes to life in ten minutes as the chase is taken into a massive sandstorm with several sand tornados; the only phrase that could describe it correctly would be visually stunning.
Even when it comes to characters Miller has outdone himself. For some ludicrous reason, Men’s Rights’ Activists (which is apparently a thing now) took offence to the fact that Max has hardly any lines of dialogue, while Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) takes prominence with the band of Immortan Joe’s (Hugh Keays- Byrne) wives who have escaped while insisting that they ‘are not things’. What they don’t seem to understand is that the damage Max has endured has hardened his heart to the world and made him take on the role of a near-silent protagonist.
The strength of Charlize Theron’s performance alone is more than enough to carry the film, but the fellow cast members Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton add an interesting perspective as the wives who have broken free and who adapt to the wilds and danger that is hunting them. They’re interesting characters, each in their own right, and are varied and distinct enough that they don’t blur into typical damsel in distress figures. In fact, Max is no hero initially, and a tenuous alliance in born out of fear and necessity.
The pace of the film is something to be commended as well. Honestly, it can be said that I’ve been on the edge of my seat for almost a whole two hours. The basis of the plot, relying on it effectively being one big car chase, creates a palpable sense of jeopardy for the protagonists, and you genuinely begin to panic that they may be caught up with or have to engage in a fight in which they are almost completely outmatched in. This is only assisted by the soundtrack, which is epic and needs no more description than that.
The film truly shines in its design, though. The nature of the costuming as well as the vehicles constructs and reflect the atmosphere of insanity that reigns in the wasteland, more so than the villains. Although you do have to give it to Nicholas Hoult; his character, Nux, is a great representation of what being born and bred in this world can do to you, how the people can be indoctrinated by power-hungry and insane lords of the wastes, and the proneness the human mind takes in a world devoid of civilization.
This film is a staggering experience. Miller has revisited this world and breathed new life into it. Many of the classic problems of the 1980s action film have been compromised here. Yes, in Mad Max: Thunderdome we were given a fantastic female antagonist, but this takes it one step further. Instead of being inundated with explosions and overly masculine men, we see this wasteland rewritten in a new perspective, with strong females populating the barren landscapes and providing more of the kickass action than anyone else ever does.
To book tickets to see Mad Max: Fury Road at York City Screen Picturehouse, please go here