Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (Spoiler Free)
While the film has a minimal story, this article refrains from spoiling any part of it, nor in detail any particular action scene moment (of which is likely what you'll be looking to see in this film).
The world is on fire for Mad Max at the time of this writing. Metacritic, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes have given the film stellar reviews. Most everyone I know who's seen is has loved it, and all the trailers looked very good for it. But in my personal opinion, I found myself a little underwhelmed. Perhaps that's contributed to the build up of just how good the film was all around me and it raised my expectations.
Now, that's not to say I didn't enjoy the film. There is a gallery of features I really enjoyed about the film, all of which I shall go over. However, I didn't leave the (overly-muggy) theatre with a sense of awe or excitement as I did with say, Ex Machina, or looking forward to the next thing with Avengers: Age of Ultron. It may have something to do that the only Mad Max feature I watched was the original, and that was when I was young and I felt that the film bored me and that it was too long. I still plan on seeing Road Warrior, but me explaining this is to give you context of where I'm coming from.
It's light and bare, which is probably good for a film that broadcasts its massive vehicular mayhem scenes. Max is captured early on, Furiosa decides to take things in her own hands while looking for her homeland, and Innamorto Joe is seeking to regain what Furiosa stole from him.
But one of the biggest things I've noticed about the film is that while Max has his name in the title, he's a side character. The story is a struggle between Furiosa and Innamorto and it's her decisions that drive the plot of the film. Max is swept up in all this and saved the day a time or two, but the film is Furiosa's.
However, I will complain that Innamortan Joe is not a convincing villain, and that's no fault of the actor's. As said before, his drive is restoring his lost property. He's a leader of a cult and civilization but aside from a couple characters' testimonies, he doesn't do anything wrong necessarily during the film. Sure, he doesn't give a ton of water to his subjects, but his words implied to me that he didn't want his people to become to reliant on it (possibly because the water was limited and might run out soon). We have an entire cult that's more than willing to die for him and he charges in at the front of his army. Sure, he has some slaves, but it seems these slaves are treated extraordinarily well (which is why they're so clean compared to everyone else in the film). This is my biggest issue in the film, having a polarized villain without any real villainy attached to him (he just wants to have perfect baby boys)!
Right away, the film displays its hard work and brilliance. There are multiple factions in the wasteland, from the War Boys (who are all painted white and spray silver spray paint over their mouths when they use suicide tactics), a group of people whose vehicles are covered in spines like porcupines (and who also dress like Tusken Raiders amusingly enough), the canyon Biker gang, the Crow people (I think they're people. All I saw were cloaks on humanoids walking on sticks in a quagmire), and a group of ridiculous older women on motorcycles.
The Acting is....
....fan-freaking-tastic! Tom Hardy plays the titular character well as a lone wanderer dealing with a dark past. He suffers hallucinations and realizes he's at least slightly insane and says more with his mannerisms than he does with his words.
Nicholaus Holt also greatly impressed me with the first half of his character arc (he's the guy who famously exclaims, "What a day! What a lovely day!" After seeing him play characters like Hank McCoy in the second generation of X-Men (First Class and Days of Future Past), as well as the zombie in Warm Bodies, I found most everything he did to be impressive. His character lessens in intensity later on which made me realize I want to see more crazy Holt in the future.
And then there's, most notably, Charlize Theron. She does her deal. That's not saying it's not impressive, but she's played this role many times before and always succeeds at it. Most other films she's in (while not a loved film, I point to Prometheus), she's a tough woman who doesn't take crap from anyone and can beat down as well as any male sharing the screen.
Hugh Keays-Byrne's performance doesn't shine compared to the rest. Most of his face is covered (like Hardy's Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) but the makeup serves to make him a striking figure. Otherwise he's not seen much.
Watching the trailers, you can guess that the film is violent and it most certainly is. The film's main theme is survival, so that's hard to get around.
However, the violence is actually done in a more, dare I say, tasteful manner. Characters will be killed but the film doesn't dwell on them. It's their curtain call and you never see them again as soon as the killing blow is struck. There is minimal gore scenes and if you blink you'll miss them.
There is a naked woman and overly large women with what is equatable with tassels on their breasts (as well as several women wearing the equivalent of underwear), but the film is far from being sexual and none of the especially naughty bits are actually shown (the worst is probably a woman's butt).
Also, as far as I can tell, there's no profanity which is kinda crazy.
The Action and Stunts
I'll be frank, these were good. I'm not exactly the person who loves vehicular rampages and stunt work (say, the entirety of the Fast and Furious franchise) but I enjoyed myself throughout this film. There are numerous ways the War Boys possess to engage other vehicles and we get to see all of them, including the fantastic 'War-Band' as I call them (chrome flamethrower guitar with a literal axe-head, anyone?). I can't speak much to it but if these kinds of things are your cup of tea, you've got all the more reason to see this film.
I agree that the film is very good. It held my attention, had more than a few awe-inspiring moments, and was paced exceptionally well. This all goes without me praising the acting and aesthetics all over again. Those who love Mad Max (I assume) will enjoy this film, those who love large scale action scenes will love this film, and those who've got a thing for car stunts will as well.
What about those that don't? Well, that all depends. I enjoyed this film for sure, but I'm not going to jump at the chance to see it again, and that may be the fault of a higher expectation. I still plan on seeing Mad Max: Road Warrior at least (I hear Beyond the Thunderdome is nowhere near as good) but Fury Road is unlikely to leave me with a lasting impression.
- Rated R for intense violence and car stunts, a nearly revealing shot of a naked woman. Language is surprisingly tame. Minimal gore letting the viewer imagine the death more often than proudly displaying it on film.
- Minimal story
- Absolutely fantastic acting to the entire cast
- Jargon and some minor character names are difficult to pick up, so you resort to calling some characters the "super-charger guy" or "fat man with gold nose."
- And the stunts will blow away anything else seen this summer.
Do you plan on seeing this film?
Check out some of my other reviews of summer films in 2015.