So I watched Mad Max: Fury Road…
Dislaimer: I have some recollection of watching the original Mad Max movies as a kid but I was much younger and don’t really remember any solid details. So this review is just about Fury Road and not how it stacks up to the originals.
Now that that’s out the way, let’s talk about Mad Max: Fury Road. I actually went to go watch this movie twice before I wrote this review because the movie was so amazing the first time, I wanted to actually make sure I wasn’t overpraising it or high off popcorn fumes.
Okay, basic plot: Tom Hardy stars as Max Rockatansky, a man wandering the post-apocalyptic desert of the Australian outback. Max becomes embroiled in a battle between Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) – the leader of a local human settlement known as the Citadel – and Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a former member of Immortan’s army, who has stolen something very precious from him.
I’m going to start with what I didn’t like about this movie: the movie ends and you have to leave the cinema because the movie is over, that’s the only thing I didn’t like about this movie. I went to watch it twice and the second time I watched it, I watched it with the sole intention of finding things I didn’t like and nitpicking. I still couldn’t find anything that I didn’t like, a dull moment, a drawn-out scene – it was all as entertaining as the first time.
Okay, now for what I did like – EVERYTHING; but let’s start with the acting. Tom Hardy was born to play a badass. Whether he’s smuggling moonshine in Lawless or breaking Batman as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises; he has this grit and intensity that he brings to every performance. His character in this movie doesn’t have a lot of dialogue but his lack of speech just goes to highlight the depth of Hardy’s talent. The emotion, the power he’s able to convey with a look or grunt is absolutely amazing. I know it might seem odd for the titular character to have very little dialogue but it’s perfectly suited for the character of Mad Max, he’s a lone wolf traversing not only the dangers of the physical world but also those of his past, and all of this has molded him into a man of few words. A man who doesn’t have time for friendship or love – only survival.
Charlize Theron is also so amazing in this movie. She’s had a lot of great (and diverse) roles over the years but I’ve never seen her play a proper badass and that’s what she is in this movie. Physically, she looks very different but it’s the ferocity she delivers in the role that really makes the performance. People are always going on about there being a need for powerful female leads and women being more self-sufficient in movies and not always relying on a man for salvation and Theron delivers this in this movie. It’s some of the best acting I’ve seen her do and definitely my favourite performance of hers. She steals scenes and is, in my view, the main character of this movie.
Now for Nicholas Hoult, the more movies I see him in, the more I like him. He has this authenticity that he brings to every role – he’s not pretending to be a character, he is the character. He lives the role. The hallmark of a great actor for me is their ability to perform the little things well. A flick of the hand, a passing look in the eye; these things may seem trivial but they just help me buy into the existence of the character. When an actor fully commits, it makes your appreciation of the character that much easier. In this movie, Hoult plays a member of Immortan Joe’s army called ‘War Boys’ – they’re crazed (often suicidal) soldiers who have been brainwashed (from youth) into thinking Immortan is a god and to serve him is the route to Valhalla. Hoult perfectly portrays the blind devotion and insanity that this cult army is founded on. He was actually my favourite character in this movie and this was largely due to the way Hoult brings him to life.
Now the story in this movie is really entertaining because it’s composed of so many interesting subplots: Furiosa’s past, life in the Citadel, Max’s past and his futile attempt to escape it; now usually, too many subplots in a movie hurt it because they take away from the main story but in this movie the subplots strengthen the movie because they provide insight into the characters instead of stealing focus.
My favourite subplot was the story of the War Boys. They’re members of this cult created by Immortan Joe as a system of control. They believe Joe to be immortal and that only through service to him and death in glorious battle will they reach Valhalla and redemption. It reminded me a lot of The Spartans in 300, they have been groomed since childhood for one reason – the pursuit of a good death in battle. It just makes for really entertaining viewing and allows for a lot of theatricality in the movie.
Now for the action, this movie is essentially a 2 hour long car chase. Furiosa escapes the Citadel with something precious to Joe – his wives – and Joe summons his entire army and that of the neighbouring colonies (Gas Town and Bullet Farm) to get them back. Now the vehicles used in this movie are things made in the wet dreams of car fanatics. Picture classic sedans retrofitted and modified for desert vehicular warfare. I’m not the biggest car fan but even I was going insane for the cars in this movie. They’re absolutely amazing and just add to the grit and edge of the movie. Plus the way George Miller films the action sequences is absolutely amazing. There’s no annoying shaky-cam or quickly-cut scenes where you don’t get to see anything. There’s long shots and wide-angle lenses so you can properly drink in the visual mastery of this movie.
There aren’t enough good things I can say about this movie. It’s nothing short of brilliant. Few movies have made me feel as excited and pumped up after seeing them as this one did. The movie puts its foot on the accelerator from the very first second and doesn’t let off until the very last scene. Amazing action, amazing acting, amazing direction, amazing script, everything a good movie should have, everything a good movie should be, Mad Max has, Mad Max is! Go watch this movie, it deserves to be seen on a big screen 10/10