By Staci Layne Wilson
When you look at the title of this 34-years-after-the-first reboot — Mad Max: Fury Road – you know exactly what you’re getting. Lots of Max and a road that’s as fast as it is furious. As our titular hero zips across a post-apocalyptic Australian Outback in a contraption filled with females, it’s breakneck to say the least.
Directed by George Miller, who made his bones with the first Mad Max film (there were three altogether), and who later helmed Babe: Pig in the City and Happy Feet, Mad Max: Fury Road is a two-hour, manic moving target, never once slowing down to let the engines cool.
When we meet Max (Tom Hardy) he is being held prisoner by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a depraved despot who’s crafted a cult around his control of the water supply. Max, still shackled, manages to escape in a dazzling display of derring-do, only to find himself stranded in the sand with no one around but a ragtag band of babes – also escapees from Joe’s cruel and crazy Citadel. The leader of the ladies is Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and before long she and Max form an uneasy alliance.
I’m leaving out a lot of plot details, because I think it’s best to go into this spectacle as uninformed as possible. I will, however, say that despite the frenetic pace of Mad Max: Fury Road and its massive set-pieces, gobsmack-nonstop action and violence, insane costuming, and its bombastic soundtrack, there is a story and there is character development. It’s actually pretty ingenious, the way Miller and Co. managed to pull this off so subtly in the melee. The characters reveal themselves through their actions.
There is a feminist feel to the film (Miller even brought in “Vagina Monologues” writer Eve Ensler to consult with the cast) but it’s so seamlessly blended in with the crux of the matter, it’s really more of a human rights question than one of gender equality. Regardless, each and every one of our handful of heroes – whether they’re XX or XY – comes off well thanks to flawless casting. Furiosa is soul and spine, while Max is rage and reason.
Far less cartoony than the originals, and way grittier than the current spate of spic-and-span superhero movies, Mad Max: Fury Road offers something completely different, wild and refreshing. Having said that, it’s not a movie I feel the need to revisit: it’s a story so succinctly shot and so straightforwardly told, that its point is perfectly made in one sitting.
Mad Max: Fury Road may be a remake-cum-reimagining but it feels wholly original and entirely refreshing.
See a fascinating piece on the construction of the Mad Max vehicles on Business Insider.
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MAD MAX FURY ROAD Review: Action to the Max