May 18, 2015 Mad Max: Fury Road (Movie Review)
Mad Max: Fury Road is the fourth film in director George Miller’s Post-Apocalyptic Mad Max series, and the first installment in the series in thirty years. It is also the first film in the franchise to not star Mel Gibson as the Road Warrior himself. British actor, Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises 2012, Inception 2010), takes over as “Mad” Max Rockatansky, an ex-cop-turned-renegade warrior who wanders the desert wastelands of a post-nuclear Australia. At the beginning of the film, Max is captured by the War Boys, a group of savages led by the tyrannical Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne- Mad Max 1979). He is imprisoned in the Citadel and is made into a blood donor or a “bloodbag” for a sick War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult- X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014, X-Men: First Class 2011). Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron- Prometheus 2012, The Devil’s Advocate 1997) goes off route when she takes her War Rig to collect gasoline. She is carrying Joe’s five wives, or “breeders.” Joe’s army then pursues Furiosa’s War Rig. Nux joins the pursuit with Max strapped to the hood of his car to continue supplying him blood. Furiosa drives into a sandstorm to evade Joe’s forces. Max ultimately escapes and joins forces with Furiosa, whose goal is to make it to the “Green Place,” a place she remembers from her childhood.
Fury Road is quite possibly the best Action film of the 21st Century. It is a sharp reminder of everything Action films used to be, and everything that they should be. All the car chases are done with real practical effects, the stunts are real, and best of all, the film feels real; very little CGI is utilized. The end result is an exhilarating cinematic spectacle which was well-worth the thirty year wait. It is an instant classic which has set the bar for what upcoming blockbusters this Summer should aspire to be. It is even safe to say that Fury Road is the finest installment of the Mad Max series, even surpassing the 1981 classic, The Road Warrior. Even at the age of seventy, Miller has proven himself to be far more ambitious and daring than all of today’s modern Action filmmakers. The trailers and TV spots referring to him as a “mastermind” are accurate.
Another part of what makes Fury Road work so well is the recasting of Max. Tom Hardy does a fine job of filling Mel Gibson’s shoes. Since Gibson is now at the age of fifty-nine, having him reprise the role that made him a star would have killed every ounce of believability. Fortunately, Miller is a filmmaker who understands this, and decided to cast a more-than-capable actor as the title character. Hardy has proven his worth as an exceptionally versatile actor time and time again- from his crazed depiction of Britain’s most violent prisoner in the Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson (2008) to his role as Batman’s most physically threatening adversary, Bane, in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Fury Road is yet another extraordinary achievement on his resume.
A good lead actor must be accompanied by a good supporting cast for a genre film to work. Charlize Theron gives a solid performance as Furiosa. A strong female character is necessary in many of today’s blockbusters, and Theron does a fine job of portraying a woman who lost everything when she was a child, and is willing to risk her own life in order to find peace in a wasteland ravaged by war. A memorable hero requires a memorable villain for the conflict to be believable. Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the villain “The Toecutter” in the original 1979 Mad Max, plays Immortan Joe. He is menacing, brutal, and uncompromising, and lacks even an ounce of human decency. He is everything a villain should be, complete with a terrifying and authoritarian voice. Nicholas Hoult is unrecognizable in his zany and energetic performance as Nux. Fury Road boasts exceptional acting from its cast members. This is another reason why it works not only as an action film, but as a film in general.
Mad Max: Fury Road is a film which is deserving of every ounce of praise it is receiving. It is a project which had many setbacks throughout the decades- instability in the Middle East (where it was originally going to be filmed) as a direct result of 9/11 and the outbreak of the Iraq War, as well of Mel Gibson’s unwillingness to return due to his commitment to the highly controversial The Passion of the Christ (2004). Fans who have waited such a long time to see the most famous Post-Apocalyptic film franchise in history make its triumphant return are certain to be pleased with Fury Road, as are casual moviegoers who just want to have a good time. Mad Max: Fury Road is the movie event of the Summer and is also an Action masterpiece for the ages. CrypticRock gives Mad Max: Fury Road 5 out of 5 stars.