Jesus Christ Mad Max: Fury Road is one loud film. Not loud like, say, Transformers. This isn’t just noise filling the soundscape to fool you into thinking exciting stuff is happening. This is more the sound of the world of Mad Max. A world ruled by the roar of a V8 engine and the screams of the insane. This film will rattle your eardrums and melt your face with how violently hard it rocks. And there I go. Recommending the film highly right out of the gate. Can’t be helped. Mad Max: Fury Road is just that good. Click the link below for me gushing for around 1,000 words.
Fury Road takes place some point after the apocalypse with no real time frame. Which is fully in keeping with the previous Max films. The world is still destroyed but some form of society has started to develop in small pockets of the outback. By society I mean a whole lot of down trodden people being ruled by fear and people being treated as things. Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne – Who you’ll remember as Toecutter from the first Mad Max) is one such ruler. He has a supply of water that he occasionally pours onto the lowly peasants living in the dust below him. He has an army of men he calls his War Boys that worship the mighty V8 engine. He also has women either being milked like cows or being used as his brides to father his offspring. One woman amongst his group called Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is in charge of making gas runs with a tanker truck referred to as the War Rig.
Today Furiosa has a different plan. Instead of doing her job like a good piece of property belonging to Immortan Joe, she’s gonna bust his wives out and take them away to the green place she remembers from her youth. This kinda annoys Joe who sends all his War Boys after her with all they’re cars modded in a manner that you would expect if Xzibit to were he living in a post apocalyptic wasteland. There’s, like, at least 50 stereos on one of these cars. So how does Max (Tom Hardy) fit into all of this? The same way he always does. He happens to have ended up in a bad situation which leads to his path crossing with Furiosa and a shared interest in doing the right thing leads to them going on a near 2 hour car chase. I’m not kidding. The film is mostly car chase. It’s so awesome.
The action in this film is relentless. The film opens with Max being chased down and captured by a group of Joe’s War boys and soon made to be a literal blood bag for a terminally ill War Boy called Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Nux is so into the idea of dying a warriors death, so he may pass to Valhalla, that he straps his blood bag, Max, to the front of his car so he can join the chase for Furiosa. This means the films first huge action sequence is a multi-car chase with a man stuck to the front of a speeding car like a hood ornament. The complexity of this sequence is baffling. People are flying all over the place, from car to car. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes as the result of explosions of gun fire. The stunts and action feel so real. Mostly because a large amount of it actually is. There are a lot of effects shots in Fury Road but they’re almost all there to accomplish the look of the surroundings or to add a few flying bodies in places no stuntman could survive. If you want an idea of how digital effects were used compare the teaser trailer to the first full trailer. A few shots were repeated with composite effects added in and it took the trailer from being something that looked cool to something that blew me away. This is how you handle digital. As a way of accompanying the insane effects you’re pulling off for real.
There are a few moments over the course of the film where the action is held back for moments of world building and character progression but these are more bookends to set piece after set piece. You’d think that this would make for a brain dead film, but it really doesn’t. Story is conveyed efficiently through sparse dialogue and simple actions. This isn’t unusual for the series at all really. Max barely says a word through the final act of the first film and he had all of 16 lines in The Road Warrior. He’s a little more talkative here, but not much. That’s kinda helpful cos Tom Hardy doesn’t have the strongest Australian accent. Stronger than Charlize Theron’s accent though. I don’t think she even tried to sound Australian. That doesn’t make a difference though. The world is weird enough as it is without wondering how a woman raised in a post apocalyptic Australia would grow up to have an American accent. Which is really odd when you consider that Charlize is South African. I did like Nicholas Hoult’s accent though. He feels like he’s stepped right out of a 70s Ozploitation flick with his fractured sentences and thick accented, borderline crazy voice.
The film tackles the themes of women being used as possessions and commodities quite well, making it clear what Joe wants them for and the toll it has had on them, condemning him from the start. As it should. Furiosa wants a better life for the women being used for breeding. She’d like a better life for everyone, but that’s way beyond her means. Like all Mad Max films Max is the force of good battered and worn down by society that rises to the occasion when he is needed. He’s essentially our will to succeed. The world has beaten him down and taken everything from him, but he always gets back up and his involvement is enough to help turn the tide. That’s not to say the women are helpless. They kick just as much arse as he does. Maybe they could have done this without him. They certainly started without him. But that’s part of the point. He’s the last remaining example of the human will to survive and he brings that to others by showing no fear to those that would oppress and do harm.
And as for the recent talk by certain groups on the internet, claiming Mad Max: Fury Road is pushing a feminist agenda, I have this to say to you.
This is what a film with varied people being treated as actual characters looks like. Woman isn’t a character. Disabled person isn’t a character. They’re the shells within which characters exist and characters are what makes film compelling. If you can’t handle the idea of a woman being portrayed as having their own goals, their own ideals and being able to handle themselves then you need to go back to the cave you crawled out of you pathetic worm.
So yeah, Mad Max: Fury Road is excellent. Really, really excellent. Hell, it’s the most refreshing action film I’ve seen for years. It almost gets to the point of being tiring to watch, but like a good cup of coffee, it keeps perking you right up with interesting events, unique set pieces and characters that, even when on film for only a short time breath extra life into every moment. No film should be able to be this full of automotive action and explosions without sacrificing something. There is no sacrifice here. The film is superb. It looks rich and textured. It sounds amazing. The score is just fantastic and has a slight feel of being a throwback to a time when scores weren’t afraid to take over. The characters are compelling and the plot picks you up by your neck and pulls you along. Hell, you’ll feel like Max probably did when stuck on the front of that car. Except fun and not highly life threatening. Go see this. Like, now. Go!