George Miller, P. J. Voeten
Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris
Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne,
Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton
No really, like HOLY SHIT!
Somewhere in the world there is a 70 year-old man fulfilling the hopes and dreams of every 1980’s post-apocalyptic, gear headed, would be wasteland marauders and it is fitting that it is the man who started it all, George Miller.
George Miller is to post-apocalyptic wasteland films what George Romero is to the modern day zombie film.
“OH WHAT A DAY, WHAT A LOVELY DAY!”
Last year when I had first gotten wind that a new Mad Max film was actually happening and that it would be starring Tom Hardy I was so very pumped. It had been 30 years since we were taken to the barren wastelands of the world after it all.
30 long years since Bartertown, Master-Blaster, The Waiting Ones, Thunderdome. 36 long desolate years since Max Rockatansky first strapped on the leather and drove his Ford Falcon XB interceptor V8 into vengeful history.
In that time, Miller has given us not one but TWO talking pig films (Babe and Babe: Pig in The City) and TWO animated socio-conscience animated penguin films (Happy Feet 1 & 2). It is great to know that time and age has not dulled the man and deep down the wastelands kept calling to him.
They must have been screaming his name. Like screeching twisted metal, it must have called to him.
Mad Max: Fury Road was his answer.
A triumphant return for its crazed and tortured main character.
This role, to me at least, IS Mel Gibson. He will always be Max. Hardy, justifiably stands as a perfect successor, worthy of the dusty leather boots left behind by the sometimes troubled Gibson.
Joining Max and providing his match is Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. She is Max’s equal all the way and is absolutely kick-ass as the would be savior and hardened driver of the War Rig. She is as much a Road Warrior as Max, with her own nightmares and horrors driving her to take extreme means to find redemption.
I was impressed how Miller is able to balance keeping the film about Max and yet incorporating and revolving the film around another’s mission to save the few who have entrusted their lives with her.
Miller himself doesn’t disappoint either. He has crafted a near perfect action film, stripped clean of pretense, free of too much dialogue where glances, grunts and short answers speak volumes. The characters’ back stories are all fleshed out and rounded without having to stop the film to tell us who they are and how they came to be there.
On the edge of humanity lies something beautiful and something terrible. This is where Mad Max: Fury Road begins.
With the exception of a quick, exposition scene at the beginning, Miller doesn’t weigh the film down with self referential, back-patting and cajoling. He doesn’t have time to stop and say “Check this shit out, did you see that? I’m still cool, mate.” He just is. He just does. In just telling a story about people, seamlessly woven through the madness of what basically is a 110 minute car chase Miller has found the perfect formula.
However, much like all of Miller’s films, nothing is really as it seems. Under all the explosions and wreckage lies a brilliant film of redemption.
As with all the films in this series, we are past the brink and holding on with our fingernails. However, Fury Road provides us with something that is just out of reach in the previous three films…
Whether it be the lawless roads of a near apocalyptic future in the original, the further decimation of humanity and civilization after the nuclear holocaust of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior or the tenuous society fated to doom because they still haven’t learned how to NOT destroy themselves, hope is at the center of the story.
Hope is dashed from Max in the first film, hope is dangled like a withered carrot in the second, and hope is desperately planted by the end of the third. Here, hope is attainable, maybe not in the way any of the characters might have wanted or thought it would but there it is. Hope.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie is relentless.
Two minutes into the film the action and the insanity starts and it only let up long enough to let the audience breathe for a second or two, move the plot along and then it is off like a gunshot fired from a speeding train flung off a mountain cliff via a jet propelled missile.
Then it really gets moving.
The action is non-stop, the explosions are spectacular, the stunts are mind blowing and the cast is brilliant.
Miller pulls out all the stops on this one. Holds nothing back and yet finds a way to interweave a really poignant story about redemption, equality and hope.
If I was to pick one thing that I was not bowled over with in this film it would be the color palette Miller and Cinematographer, John Seale, chose.
So much orange and blue.
I suppose that it is a natural (or un-natural, for that matter) choice due to the setting of the orange and yellow sands of the Namibian landscape and the blue of the skies but at times it seemed too heavy handed and i missed the more natural, less saturated color pallet of the first three films.
Color not withstanding, Mad Max: Fury Road delivers on all cylinders. Miller may have topped himself in the series and created the best so far.
By the time this review is published I will have already seen it three times with more future viewings planned. So that will tell you something about the movie.