Mad Max: Fury Road Review
Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton
Run Time: 120 mins
What a day. What a lovely day.
Let me start by saying that I loved the film and it was easily one of the most entertaining films this year. Directed by George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road is an unapologetic, explosive action film that has you at the edge of your seats throughout. So hold on tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Like the previous Mad Max films, this too is based in a post-apocalyptic world where fuel is scare and water even scarcer. The world has become a dry and desolate wasteland where the people are just as misshapen inside as they are on the outside. The film doesn’t really go into the specifics outside of a brief voice over by Max, it tells you exactly what you need to know to follow the plot but doesn’t weigh the film down with needless information. Max joins an unlikely group of women, all of them on the run to some promised land, lead by Imperator Furiosa.
The film can only be described as loud, frenetic and chaotic and absolutely, no-holds-barred crazy and it works beautifully. The whole film is one long car chase and initially I was concerned that it might get a tad repetitive and dull and while it does get repetitive, dull is not a word I would associate with this film. It is one breathless car chase after another and just when you think that the film has hit its peak, it surprises you yet again. The pace of the narrative is exhausting but never feels drawn out. The sheer scale of the film is impressive and daunting.
The main protagonists in the film are all damaged in one way or another and yet, together this ragtag group manages to outfox their pursuers who vastly outnumber them. Tom Hardy as Mad Max himself was compelling but walking out of the film, I questioned whether he had enough to do. He certainly didn’t stand out. For the most part, he was passive and someone who reacted to what was done to him. Max himself felt a little anti-climactic.
Charlize Theron as the Imperator Furiosa was impressive and memorable and quite frankly one of the most kick-ass characters I have come across in recent films. And I’m not just talking about female characters. She was strong, no-nonsense, ruthless and practical. Her character was perhaps the most fascinating in the entire film. Thinking about the film now, I can remember Hardy’s Max, but it is Charlize’s Furiosa who shines. Here is a female character who is just as capable as her male counterpart and is his equal in every way that counts. Her character arc was also more interesting than that of Max who just seemed to go along with the flow. Furiosa drove the narrative forward in a way that he didn’t. (An entire essay could be written on the awesomeness that is Furiosa, but perhaps another time.)
Let’s not forget the others who form this motley crew, especially the women. And there are many women, most of whom are strong and believe in saving themselves. So often in blockbuster films, the women are reduced to being damsels in distress or the love interest. It was a welcome relief to see so many women in a film who broke that mould. It was also notable that these women refused to be used as property. They could so easily have been damsels in distress but they weren’t. They were wiling to put their lives on the line for their freedom, not waiting for a man to save them. It was also nice that they were helped Furiosa, another woman. These women were more than capable of taking care of themselves.
Other honourable mentions include: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Nicholas Hoult (obviously not a woman but I didn’t know where else to fit him) and the amazing bike-riding women.
In a film so packed with breath-taking stunts and extremely exciting chases, it would have been easy to lose the characters amidst all that chaos, yet somehow, Miller managed to still keep these characters front and centre. There was a plot that drove all the insanity onscreen and it was its plausibility that made the film as gripping as it was. It made the viewer invested in the characters and their fate, beyond the awesome action sequences. The action itself, while disorienting, (and headache inducing for those not used to such films) was extremely thrilling to say the least.
The cinematography is another aspect that makes this film so enjoyable to watch. Most action films employ the hand-held camera technique; it makes the film look more dynamic while also conveying the urgency of the moment. But it can also make the film’s visuals hard to follow. Fury Road was visually coherent and that only added to viewers’ pleasure. In addition, while the landscape is desolate and barren, the colours really pop, making an otherwise dull frame come alive with the occasional bursts of colour.
Yet, what makes the film really work and keeps it from sliding into being ridiculous is that Miller doesn’t pull any punches. Everything from the car designs to the names of the characters, all of it is in keeping with Miller’s insane and brilliant vision. To give you an example, there is a hybrid truck with drummers in the back and an electric (flame-thrower) guitarist in the front. And in the context of the film, it makes complete sense. My only grouse was the 3D, if possible, watch it in 2D. Apart from a few typical 3D gimmick shots, it really doesn’t add anything to the film.
Mad Max: Fury Road was an extremely enjoyable summer film and sets a high bar for the films to follow. With thrilling action sequences and compelling characters, if you love action films, then this film is very highly recommended. You will not be disappointed.
P.S. – Maybe the film should have been called Mad Max: Furiosa.