Released on May 15, 2015. Available On Demand, digital download, and Blu-ray/DVD!
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015)
Directed by George Miller
Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, John Howard, Richard Carter, Iota, Angus Sampson, Jennifer Hagan, Megan Gale, Melissa Jaffer, Quentin Kenihan, Chris Patton, Coco Jack Gillies, Stephen Dunlevy, Richard Norton
Find out more about the film here!
I’ll be posting my review of the best horror movie of 2014-2015 tomorrow, but though it isn’t a horror movie, we all know what the best of the best genre movie of that year was…the motion picture mammoth MAD MAX: FURY ROAD! Here’s my review and look for the best HORROR film of 2014-2015 tomorrow!
People talk too much: in comic books, in movies, on TV, and in real life. Most people these days will choose to use one hundred one words when five will suffice and often carry more resonance. To prove this point I give you George Miller’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, a film that had I not had my breath knocked out of me by the intensity and power of the action in the first five minutes, I might have thought to try to count the words used in this film. Sure, there are soliloquies later in the film, but for the first few minutes of the movie (after a very brief narration at the start) there’s hardly a word spoken–and if there’s one thing everyone knows, it’s that it’s the quiet ones that are the most dangerous. While this is bombastic in style and epic in scope, dialog-wise, this is a downright quiet film, and that’s what impressed me most about MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.
I found the original MAD MAX, aside from a pretty balls-out opening and a few other moments, to be somewhat of a snoozer compared to the inspired ROAD WARRIOR and the Hollywood-glitzed BEYOND THUNDERDOME. While the film felt necessary in that it established the world and the origin story of Max, it definitely isn’t indicative of the films that followed. That said, all of the films that followed MAD MAX feel like they hit the ground running and never stop from beginning to end. By now you’ve probably read one jizz splooshing review after another filled with praise and worship, and I can’t say I disagree with them. The film does set a new standard in intense action filmmaking that I believe will resonate to the way future action films will be made. All I plan to do in this review is articulate why I feel this way as clearly as possible, as most of you have already seen it and formed your own opinions by now.
I do think George Miller, at 70 years old, created a film with more vitality and life than films made by directors a fraction of his age. The opening alone lets you know this is no ordinary action film. With a tiny bit of dialog from Max, we know everything there is to know: the world is broken, Max is broken, and while there are attempts to fix, the most important thing in this new world and for Max is survival by any means necessary. It’s a mad, mad world and Max is just there to bear witness to it. Max is us. Not surprisingly from the title, he is our central focus, but really, Max is nothing but a participant here in the action. Like us, if we follow moviegoer protocol, he is mostly silent through this film. It almost feels unnatural when Max has dialog, and I think if there are weak moments, it’s when Max actually speaks. This isn’t meant as a jibe against Tom Hardy, as he gives a fantastic performance with just a cold stare, a grunt or a nod, wide eyes or a slightly agape mouth at the insanity in front of him. In many ways, this could be a silent film of old as Hardy is forced to show us his frustrations, his confusion, his emotion rather than just tell us in a writer room-evident discourse.
Charlize Theron’s Furiosa makes Max feel like a chatterbox. She barely utters a word until about the twenty-minute mark, though again, her presence is commanding and unforgettable. While much of this goes to some amazing costume design with her Native American-esque greasepaint, short hair, and mechanical arm, Theron emotes so much with those big blue eyes showing that there’s a lot going on in that shaved head of hers that she’s processing and working out. Even before her place in the plot is revealed it’s evident she carries a heavy burden, and while she does get some time to explain things, much of what is necessary to be communicated comes in one word phrases as this is a story that simply drives forward and doesn’t have time to sit and talk.
And that’s what I love most about the performances and the film itself. I love David Mamet. I love Tarantino. I even can appreciate Kevin Smith in small doses. But somewhere along the Hollywood path, it feels like instead of dazzling the audience with sights and sounds, it became more hip and trendy to screech the action to a halt and talk a bit. The most blatant example of this is Tarantino’s DEATHPROOF, which has the leading ladies stop, get out of their car, and squat in the middle of a road to chat for fifteen minutes. It’s gratuitous. It makes it crystal clear that this isn’t a character, but a writer at a computer too in love with his words. It’s not real. FURY ROAD spits a bloody loogey on all of that, and as outlandish as it looks and feels at times, never do the characters act (or more accurately, react) as if it wasn’t real and absolutely dangerous. That’s why FURY ROAD is so effective.
It’s not just the pace of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD that is so nuts. The way the film is edited and laced together revs you up to an intensity that few films are capable of. There’s a specific series of actions towards the end of the film as Furiosa, Max, the brides, and Nux are all battling their own adversaries that is spliced together in such a nuanced and masterful way—never losing me as the viewer, but conveying the absolute chaos orchestra of mayhem going on that made my jaw drop. I couldn’t believe how well this final sequence played out.
Much has been said about the insanity of the world Mad Max travels through and yes there are some absolutely insane moments. The costumes are original and outstanding. The machinery is a gearhead’s wet dream. There are tiny details a plenty here that defy logic; like the people walking through the swamps on stilts, the line of obese wet nurses, the smiley faces painted onto Nux’s goiters, and the fact that there’s a random bucket of breast milk hanging from the truck. But instead of insanity, I feel that this is a lived-in world George Miller has formulated. Yes, there’s a lot of crazy shit going on, but much of it is a culmination of what was established before in the three films before it. Everything from the designs of the war boys, which is reminiscent of one of the characters from THUNDERDOME to the inclusion of Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe who also played Toecutter in the original Mad Max. I was half expecting Bruce Spence to show up as the lanky pilot from ROAD WARRIOR and THUNDERDOME, but no dice. This is a thoroughly thought out world and with FURY ROAD, we are just seeing the edges of it.
I have to mention my absolute favorite aspect of the film, and most likely it was many others as well, as it was lead off topic in the talk with my group who went to see it. Immortan Joe’s travel theme music truck blew my mind in ways I never thought possible. The spastic guitarist pulling along the drum section is so outrageous that I laughed until I cried every time I saw it. This little crazy detail is proof that Miller is a genius and possessor of a mind I am both fascinated with and a little afraid of. I mean it; I want a whole movie on the origin and further adventures of that single truck rocking it’s ass off through the wasteland! Junkie XL provided the score of the film which included all of the drum wallops and screeching guitar riffs. As much as the editing amped up the fervor at play in the film, this composer’s music provided the necessary fuel to push it over the edge.
And here’s hoping Miller is capable and gets the funding to make another film as there are so many places in the Wasteland I want to see through Max’s eyes. There will be those who blast the film for not beating out PITCH PERFECT 2 in the box office when it was released, but that fact only cements what I already knew; that box office numbers rarely mean quality. There certainly are no box office scores in Miller’s post apocalyptic world. It doesn’t need them. It simply is a place where action starts and never stops. It’s a place where my heart started beating fast in the first seconds and kept it going long after the film. It’s a place that kept me up the night after I saw it, still reeling from all of the amazing imagery I bore witness to. This is the type of cinema we simply need more of.