5/26/15

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD - REVIEW


The problem with sequel/reboots (sequoots, if you will) is that you never know what you're going to get but, most likely, you're not getting the good stuff. And just when you're getting sick and tired of those reboots (and sequoots), obviously a great one comes along to make you rethink the validity of the whole thing.

Yes, Mad Max: Fury Road is pretty awesome.

With Tom Hardy taking over the role of Max Rockatansky, a role which put Mel Gibson on the map back in the day, George Miller returning to directing duties and a killer trailer promising great things, this looked set to be a good time, at the very least. Then again, the Conan The Barbarian remake had a cool trailer too so it could have all gone pear-shaped very quickly. Thankfully, Miller's insistence that all the cars in the film would have to be built for real along with often stunning cinematography by John Seale, a great cast and some brilliant character design means that Mad Max: Fury Road is, in fact, pretty darn good all around.

After seeing so many icons from our childhoods come crashing down due to bad, or at least inferior, reboots and sequels, from RoboCop to Indiana Jones and even John McClane, it's definitely good to see Mad Max still kicking ass into the 21st century.

After being captured by the bad guys early on, Max finds himself tied to the front of a car with a piece of metal stuck to his face. It's only when Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who steals the baddie's truck full of fuel, water, human milk (don't ask) and his prisoner wives, leads a car chase right into a massive sandstorm that Max finally escapes. The whole film is like one big car chase, really, as the freakish cult leader of The Citadel, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), goes after his truck which is headed to what Furiosa believes to be a "green place" in the middle of the desert that is this bleak post-apocalyptic future. Along the way, the group encounters bikers, pointy hedgehog cars, a guy with bullets on his head riding a tank, bird guys with stilts, two-headed lizards... you name it, it's there.

The real strength of Fury Road, besides its beautiful visuals and exciting, relentless car chases, is the way in which the drama is handled. Really, the film is much more about Furiosa's journey than Max's and, although it's a little disappointing to not have Max be the focus, she is an interesting character played incredibly well by Theron and her character arc is actually really rewarding. Instead of making her the tough two-dimensional tomboy cookie James Cameron would have probably gone for, Miller keeps her quietly strong but also quietly fragile. The look Furiosa gives Max after one tough adventure alone speaks a thousand words.

While a worthy casting choice, Tom Hardy is not given too many opportunities to shine as Max: most of the time he's either running, punching or stand there tied to a car with his mouth obstructed by a metal grill (Bane, much?). When he does say something (or grunt something, rather) he makes sense as Max and the film does leave you wanting more from him. Here's hoping a sequel would give Hardy more iconic character moments. The supporting cast is also good, Nicolas Hoult does a particularly fab job as one of the "War Boys" who worship Immortan Joe and believe their heroic deaths in his honour will lead them straight to Valhalla.

All in all, Mad Max: Fury Road is easily one of this year's best films/blockbusters and it deserves to be a hit. Miller has not let fans of his work down and has succeeded, one hopes, in getting a whole new generation interested in the Road Warrior. The film is a visual treat with a genuine retro feel that's been sorely missing from so many remakes/reboots/belated sequels, it boasts tons of action, some amazing-looking custom cars and great, surprisingly fleshed-out characters.

What more do you want? Blood?

Mad Max's got that also.

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