‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Review: WITNESS!

Posted in The Screening Room by - May 19, 2015

Despite this month being designated as Comic Movie Month, its also seen noticeable cinema releases. One such release is Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that provided exactly what was promised by its ad campaigns and press release. It’s two hours of nearly non-stop action and heavy percussion rhythms provide a heart pounding series of scenes that compound together to create what will surely be this years foremost action film. It is with great pleasure that I watched this film and write its review for the site.

Mad Max: Fury Road could arguably be said to follow the story of the one armed Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, as she tries to free the harem of women owned by the primary villain known as Immortan Joe. It’s worth noting that Joe is played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, the same actor that played Toecutter in the original Mad Max film. Joe takes his sons and warparty after the women, calling in favors from the nearby gang headquarters known as Gas Town and The Bullet Farm, established in the world as the go to market for their namesakes. The notable appearances of Tom Hardy as the eponymous Mad Max and Nicholas Hoult as Nux the Warboy round out the more outstanding members of the cast.

Nux is a Warboy in Joe’s gang, damaged and restricted by the necessity of Mad Max being attached to him as a blood transfer. Determined not to miss a raid for his beloved leader, Nux convinces the medic to strap Max to the front of his kill car. Nux then joins the gang as they speed out in to the desert with Mad Max attached to the front bumper.

The conflict of the film takes place in the bleak and inhospitable deserts and the imposing canyons and gorges that make up the bulk of the world found in the original Mad Max Trilogy. The near constant yellow hues of the air, vast expanses in which the world is set, and the ingenious ways in which hero and villain alike deal with these hostile environments serves to provide a stark environment that is at once dreary and depressing and capable of bright color and eye stunning imagery. Every scene shows some new and interesting aspect of life in the world of Mad Max, from kill cars of unimaginable use to the interesting adoption of terrain as a weapon. There is enough variety in the setting that a second or third viewing would likely reveal new aspects of the various denizens and their mentalities.

The world of Mad Max also seems to get a boost from the film. The existence of three different gang land towns suggests a functioning, albeit with poorly, world with rules and infrastructure. This expands on the possibilities laid forth in Beyond the Thunderdome with Barter Town. The cultural aspects displayed by the Warboys of Immortan Joe mix viking ideals of the afterlife with muscle cars and gasoline, creating a society that deserves far more in depth observation.

                                                   One of the many Warbands of Fury Road.

                                                   One of the many Warbands of Fury Road.

The effects of the film are simply astounding. The knowledge that most of the film was done with practical effects as opposed to CGI adds a new layer to the appreciation for the movie. Every vehicle that flips, spins, explodes and gets crushed between eighteen wheelers was actually destroyed in much the same way. As men dangle from poles spinning back and forth above a fleet of cars barreling across the earth, it is almost impossible to believe that human beings were willing to perform such dangerous activities for nothing but money and the possibility of future work. Motorcycles leap through the air, dropping Molotov cocktails on to the hood of speeding cars. Men and women alike hold on to the outside of constructs that were not meant to truly function in the real world. Even the few instances of CGI are exquisitely done, with cars being sucked up in to spiraling tornadoes and bursting in to flames.

The soundtrack also deserves mention in any half decent review of the film. Its hard pulsating rhythms, it slow builds to devastating crescendos of violent guitar riffs serve to add a visceral sensation to the action displayed before the viewers eyes. The suggestion that the soundtrack might be primarily diagetic also managed to play on one of my personal loves of film. A zealous mad man stands strapped atop the cab of a dump truck by bungee cords, strumming his electric guitar in front of a wall of giant amplifiers, all backed by a bed full of massive drums. At one point Mad Max fights on board the musical car and hits opponents with the flame throwing instrument, and each strike is accompanied by a thrum of the chords in the soundtrack.

You may notice that I have written little about the performances of the various actors. Tom Hardy’s Mad Max is dour and rarely speaks. When he does so it is mostly in grunts, or with a voice similar in tone to his rendition of Bane from Dark Night Rises. Charlize Theron manages to convey loss and pain in her Imperator Furiosa, though her character spends far more time beating on people than portraying character. The one actor that provided real and surprising characterization was Nicholas Hoult, who’s Warboy shows real development over the course of the film.

Overall I hope that this film functions as suitably bad-ass action injection in to the arms of the Mad Max series, and that with it’s release in box offices the powers behind it decide to allow its extension in to more films. If Fury Road is any indication of what future Mad Max movies will hold, I can only pray that it sees more financial success in the weeks to come. I deeply hope for further development in to the world of Mad Max, from a depiction of Gas Town to a look at the harvesting system of the Bullet Farm. Also, while I have little doubt as to the continued inclusion of Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy in popular cinema, Nicholaus Hoult has managed to impress upon me a desire to see his career flourish in the mainstream media. You may think I’ve discussed everything of value within the movie, and that no need remains for you to witness its explosive and inspired cinematic experience, but believe me when I say that Fury Road has far more within its run time then can be discussed within this written review, and that no grouping of words can equal the rush of watching Max bounce from vehicle to vehicle in the mad attempt at saving those in need.

Final Say: Watch It

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Born in Arizona, he currently resides in Denton, Texas. When he isn't watching movies he's playing board games and drinking whatever he can get his hands on. John watches Djimon Honsou movies because he likes Spawn, which had Michael Jai White.
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