"Mad Max" Breathes Life Into a Barren Wasteland
Directed by: George Miller Rating: R Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Run Time: 120 minutes
Every now and again, a series largely condemned as creatively unsound or budget-y will spawn sequels worthy of the term “art.” Mad Max is one of those series.
Though not a masterpiece by any means, “Mad Max: Fury Road” still provides a unique, stylized spin on the post-apocalyptic genre so many films seem to lack. Though Tom Hardy is no Mel Gibson, the sheer attention to detail George Miller has packed into this world and its inhabitants make it a must see for anyone remotely interested in the genre.
Like many of Max's previous adventures, Fury Road sees Max (Tom Hardy) become involved in what can bestt be described as somebody else's story. Captured by the War Boys led by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a mullet-sporting baddie with a respirator and car fetish, Max is quickly relegated to organ donor to the dying War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult), whom Max shares a love-hate relationship with. He eventually gets free, taking refuge in Imperiosa Furiousa's (Charlize Theron) War Rig. Her mission: free Immortan Joe's "wives" and reach this world's equivalent of the promised land.
It's no secret that this story works surprisingly well. Even though Max is far more disabled in this version than any of his previous incarnations, so much attention has gone to not only the world, but the dynamics between all main and secondary characters, that "Fury Road" succeeds in being the most realistic and interesting "Mad Max" to date. It's so easy to get lost in George Miller's mastery of the film's visuals to forget that half, if not more, of the film's success lies in the film's characters, and no one more than Imperiosa Furiosa.
In a world where strong female leads are often included on the basis of a focus testing checklist, Imperiosa Furiosa is a breath of fresh air. We know very little about her going into the flick, except that she holds status in Immortan Joe's court, with her true intentions only revealed when she actually executes them.
This appropriately kicks off the thrill ride that is "Fury Road." There's not much downtime in the flick, with massive amounts of time relegated to the action sequences. And it works. Unlike its predecessors, "Fury Road" is not limited by technological or budget restrictions, and it shows. Inhabiting a world only a video game can match, the sheer creativity that went into crafting each individual car, weapon, etc. leads to interesting choreography and plenty of tense chases.
My only problem with the film comes at the ending, if only because it involves Max and Imperiosa doubling back to Joe's Citadel, but is more of a personal preference than anything else, and it does resolve all the major plot arcs. Everything works out for the people of the Citadel, and seeing Joe's respirator get ripped off his despicable face was truly satisfying. Without spoiling much, Miller did indeed keep "Fury Road" contained, while leaving room for a which will most likely also be self-contained.
Honestly one of the best films of the year. If you haven't seen it, you really should.