Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road
In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.
36 years since the first Mad Max film, and 30 years since the last George Miller returns to pen the script for (with some help) and direct the apocalyptic world he created with a new actor to fill the role of Max Rockatansky, actor Tom Hardy. Mad Max: Fury Road is a throwback film to many ways, but with a modern sensibility about it. Joining Miller and Hardy is a fascinating cast but most notably Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa and Nicholas Hoult as Nux. It is through Hardy, Theron, and Hoult’s three characters we get the crux and much of the theme of the film.
Much has been made about the film being a feminist plot, but after watching it, the film could be called an environmentalist plot, a call for redistribution of wealth, a condemnation of blind and fanatical faith, and a look at post-industrial society. It’s a political film no doubt, but if this is what you’re focused on, you’re probably missing the visual assault and pulse pounding action. The fact is, the film doesn’t raise the women above the men in any way as characters, they hold their own in even footing, the way life and a film should be. The women play both warrior and damsel, but so does Max, and so does Nux. I don’t want to focus too deeply on the political subtext, that’s a post for another day.
The film is brilliant in many ways, Miller clearly had a vision and the film is unequaled so far this movie season. The script maybe contained 500 words between the cast, instead this is a film of action, both through the movement of the actors, but the movement of the machinery. The film at it’s most simple is a chase and disaster film with Max and Furiosa pursued by Immortan Joe and his disciples.
The visuals are the draw here, as you’re thrown directly into the action for a sequence that goes on for quite a while before a proper break. It’s an assault, in a good way, pushing visuals in front of you that left my jaw agape. The film takes us back to practical special fx, forgoing computer animation as much as possible, it’s both refreshing and exciting to see it all again on the big screen.
There’s not much to say about the acting. It’s good, not great, but there’s also not a whole lot there as far as dialogue. There’s lots of grunts and looks, but we’re not talking Shakespeare. While dialogue isn’t prevalent those three main characters of Max, Furiosa, and Nux each have interesting arcs taking them each from subjugation through liberation. It’s all fascinating and gets into the themes of the film.
By the end of the film, I felt spent, the length felt like a perfect amount of time that had me drained when the credits rolled. Miller hasn’t lost a step in his time away, and when you take the story, visuals, direction, fx, and characters it all feels revolutionary in many ways.
30 years later, and Miller has returned at what he does best, and has put Hollywood on notice of how to do a film right. It’s my favorite film of 2015 so far. What a lovely day. What a lovely film.
Overall rating: 9.5