What a lovely film.
We’re currently living in the pinnacle ages of blockbuster action movies. In the past two months we’ve already gotten Furious 7 and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. By the end of the month we’ll have San Andreas, and the rest of the year is smattered with a couple of Marvel flicks, a new Star Wars, and more. While I’ll definitely see (and probably enjoy) almost all of these films, they do share one common denominator: a heavy, heavy reliance on CG elements. Mad Max: Fury Road, however, brings us a pure action film that lives and thrives on it’s practical effects.
Telling another tale for Mad Max, the film follows Max as he is captured by the demented leader Immortan Joe. Of course Max can’t stay away from vehicles for long and, in traditional Max style, inadvertently becomes involved in an attempt to free Joe’s prized “breeders” by the one-armed badass Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron).
Fury Road lands as the four film in the Mad Max series, and is brought back to the screen by it’s original director George Miller, who is now still rocking in his 70s. It’s been 30 years since the last film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, was released, so you would expect a lot to be different. To begin with, Mel Gibson is no longer filling the titular role, with Tom Hardy now stepping into Max’s worn leather boots. While it would have been nice to have a cameo of Mel in the film, it makes sense that he is absent – the world presented in Fury Road feels like a perfect extension of the series established timeline.
Outside of that actor change, and the fact that Fury Road takes advantage of 30 years of improved camera technology, this films stands right next to The Road Warrior, and feels right at home. It’s definitely the most chaotic and action packed of all the Max films, yet completely feels like a natural progression for the series. The film features stunning action sequences from start to finish, using noticeable practical effects. I say noticeable in a positive way too – they don’t look cheap, they look real. You feel like everyone involved in getting their ass kicked the whole time, and the sense of destruction and explosions is absolutely fantastic.
The same can be said for the aesthetic and tone created by the film. If you’ve seen the original films, you know they were filled with completely bonkers characters, costumes, and vehicles. For lower budget, Australian films made in the late 70s to early 80s, they totally made sense. With Fury Road, none of that changes. Costumes are ridiculous, and the characters within them are equally so. George Miller owns this 100%, and not only makes it work, it makes other films of this nature feel cheap for not embracing an unique and bold vision of the apocalypse. The film is visually stunning from start to finish.
I have to also give credit to some of the crew beyond just Miller. Fury Road is gorgeously shot by John Seale, and executed brilliantly by editor Margaret Sixel. The score from Junkie XL is also pitch perfect, adding to every scene in extravagantly over the top ways.
It really is fairly hard to pick out flaws in Mad Max: Fury Road. It never bogs down, serving up a near non-stop chase sequence for it’s entire running time. If I had to complain about anything, it would be one, unnecessary use of gimmicky 3D, tossing something at the audience, in the 3rd act of the film. Fury Road is an excellent, throwback action film, and this feels like a tossed in nod to our modern audience. The effect looks good, but we didn’t need it.
Mad Max: Fury Road is an absolutely special film. We don’t get action films like this anymore, and it deserves all of the praise bestowed upon it. I walked into it hoping the hype wouldn’t leave me disappoint, and the film managed to rise above that. From the opening shot, it is an fast-paced, deliberate adrenaline ride, and it’s one I can’t recommended enough.