One of my favorite movie sub-genres is the post-apocalypse genre. We don’t usually get too many of these movies on a per year basis, but I get excited whenever one does come out. I find post-apocalypse movies very interesting because they exist in a world that we just aren’t familiar with at all. Obviously one of the most famous post-apocalypse movies is Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior which most would agree is the most influential movie to ever come out of the genre. I’m a huge Mad Max fan and have been watching those three movies since I was a little kid. Now the director and creator George Miller is back with Mad Max: Fury Road which is a movie he has been trying to get made for years. I was a little worried that it might not live up to the original movies, but after watching it I can report that is goes above and beyond.
In Mad Max: Fury Road, Max (Tom Hardy) is back and he gets captured by a bunch of War Boys, an army for a tyrannical cult leader named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Max manages to escape and runs into Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), an oil war rig driver for Immortan Joe who betrays Joe and rescues his sex slave breeding women who are being used to give birth to future generations of warlords. At first Max and Furiosa don’t trust each other, but they realize that they have a common enemy and need to work together because Immortan Joe and his War Boys in their vehicular war machines are coming for them.
When I first heard that Tom Hardy was going to play Max I automatically approved of the casting decision. Hardy is one of the best actors working in Hollywood and I couldn’t have even thought of a better choice. Here in this movie the filmmakers decided to fill Max’s character out a bit and show the inner struggle he has with not being able to save his family. They actually make his character match his nickname of “Mad Max” and show that he is kind of going crazy, yet it is hard for him to realize it because he feels as though the rest of the world may be going crazy based on all the death and destruction he has seen. It is an interestingly layered look at the character that we got see glimpses of in the original three movies but those portrayals never went quite this deep.
As good as Tom Hardy is at portaying Max, Charlize Theron is just as good at playing Furiosa. Some could even argue that Furiosa is the star of the movie especially considering it is her actions that put everything in motion and allow Max to escape during all the chaos she has caused by rescuing Immortan Joe’s sex slave women. I hear some “men’s rights groups” are throwing a fit over the idea of Furiosa being one of the main characters and kicking a lot of ass and ordering Max around. In a way I can warp my mind and bang my head against a wall a few times and possibly lose a few brain cells to understand what they mean, but honestly their claim is completely baseless. Sure there is a bit of a feminist take presented in this movie, but Max and Furiosa both have great character arcs and I would say they both are as equally important to the story and work more as a team without one overshadowing the other. If these so called “men’s rights groups” can’t join us in the 21st century and stop trying to overcompensate for their own self-perceived lack of manhood then they can just miss out on an awesome movie and keep rambling incoherently over on their little blogs.
Now that I got that political social crap out of the way I can get to why I really enjoyed this movie. The action sequences mixed with the cinematography in this movie are absolutely stunning. Cinematographer John Seale did a spectacular job with the look of this movie. He takes the style that Miller created years ago in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and is able to add a slick texture of bright and dark colors that create a beautifully dirty post-apocalyptic aesthetic. The action is filmed really well in that there is no sign of any shaky cam and you can clearly see every single thing Miller is trying to show you. Miller has claimed that 90% of the stunts are practical and I believe him because none of the action has any of the horrible CGI cartoonish look that so many modern day action movies have.
Now I could try and knock a few points off this movie for not having a broader story, but I couldn’t responsibly do that for the fact that I saw nothing wrong with the story itself. Sure it could have been a little broader although I think the filmmakers were going for a more condensed plot with the movie being carried by the characters and action. Something I would have liked to see that they make mention to in the movie is Gas Town. This is the destination Furiosa is headed towards in the beginning of the movie before she pulls off route putting her plan in action. They show Gas Town off in the distance, but we never actually get to go in there and experience it. It would have been interesting to see what type of characters were there. Keeping the story tight though was probably the right choice because Miller may have gotten a bit too creative in the last movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Half way into that movie Max finds a primitive tribe of kids that most Mad Max fans would probably call the Ewoks of this franchise. Honestly the superb action in Mad Max: Fury Road more than makes up for the story being a little thin.
There really isn’t too much else to say about this movie. It is without a doubt the best movie I have seen so far this year. Hollywood really needs to take note of this movie and realize that this is how you reboot a franchise from years ago. This movie is a mix of old school filmmaking mixed with a few new school ideas and it works on every level and is a formula that other filmmakers should really try to pursue. With this movie George Miller has returned to the wasteland and has delivered a post-apocalyptic epic that will not only be influential to action movies, but movies in general. Mad Max: Fury Road is exactly the type of movie that the summer movie season has been needing for years.
Dave’s Rating- ★★★★★ (5) out of ★★★★★(5)