The fourth film in the series created by Austrailan director George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road holds nothing back.
Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) replaces Mel Gibson as Road Warrior Max Rockatansky. The film begins with Max being captured by the War Boys, the personal army of tyrant Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also played villain Toecutter in the original Mad Max). Max is used as a blood bag since he is a universal doner for Nux (Nicholas Hoult).
Joe and his army is in pursuit of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Furiosa has absconded with Joe’s prized breeders also know as the Five Wives (Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee Kershaw and Courtney Eaton).
The plot is pretty much a chase movie from start to finish. It doesn’t really stand out. This film is a story about a world. A world that George Miller has expertly kept adding to its lore and mythology since 1979. We don’t know how the world got this way, but it feels like we know as much as the characters do.
This is one of the more character focused action films since Aliens. It is through them that we as viewers understand this wasteland that we are presented with. Even though he is the title character, Max is not the primary focus. Then again in every post-Mad Max film he rarely is. The films tend to focus on how Max drifts in and out of the lives and struggles of others. We feel for Max because he simply is trying to survive. Nothing more, nothing less.
Furiosa on the other hand, mentions that she is looking for redemption and even though she breaks the wives out from Immortan Joe’s grasp, you wonder what happened to this woman that she seeks to right her wrongs.
Even as the main antagonist, Immortan Joe is intriguing as well. While he may be presented as a tyrant, warlord and man who sees women as property, Miller provides just enough nuance to make me wonder what does a man have to do to hold on to that kind of power? He keeps the wives as his breeders, but since they will bring forth his progeny, there is some sentiment he feels toward them, even if it’s by proxy because they carry his children.
Now I know all the reviews praise the character of Furiosa and both the character and Theron’s acting deserve every bit of it. Yet for me my favorite character is Nux.
As the story begins, Nux is like most warriors. Reveling for the opportunity to die in battle. We don’t get his particular backstory, but most likely as a War Boy he was only shown one way. Once he has spent time with Max, Furiosa and the Wives, he is shown another way and his growth really shines. A them of the film is the return of hope and Nux’s transformation is an example of that.
I love Miller’s world building here. It gives us both everything and nothing at the same time. Then we get a hint of something that may or may not explain something but we viewers fill in the blanks. This quality runs into his filmmaking as well. Giving us moments where we don’t have to see things to know what happened. A standout scene for me was a moment where Max heads out at night retrieve supplies. We hear an explosion and he comes back. This was brilliantly filmed. Miller knows that we know that Max was gonna succeed so why waste time with a fight at that point in the film? We knew he would win.
Of course I can’t finish without discussing the superb action scenes.
So much vehicular carnage and not an ounce of CGI. Or at least any bit that I could obviously see. One thing that I loved about not only this film but the entire series is that Miller can convey something brutal and we feel it without it resulting to be either over the top gore or malicious. People are shot, blown up, run over and you don’t have to turn away from the screen.
My final thought is that Mad Max: Fury Road a perfect evolution of the action films of the 1980s. It’s hard to believe that George Miller could be away from this for so long and bring it back better than ever. This should be seen. Plain and simple. This is a spectacle that deserves to be seen on the big screen.
Final Rating 5/5
For more DeaconsDen coverage on Mad Max check out these links:
Comics Review: Nux & Immortan Joe
Comics Review: Furiosa