MOVIES – The original director of the Mad Max movies, George Miller returns for this new Mad Max movie, which is set in the well-known, cruel post-apocalyptic world. While it’s unclear, whether Mad Max: Fury Road can be considered as the fourth episode to the Mad Max saga, or simply a remake, however, what’s absolutely sure that this entry in the series is a total masterpiece.
Animal instinct. Survival. Total madness. Cold hearted cruelty. Those are the keywords for George Miller’s latest entry in the Mad Max movie saga. The original director of the Mad Max movies is back and while his vision of our future hasn’t changed a bit, it’s more shocking and brutal – yet immensely satisfying as ever.
Simplicity has its brutal charm
The story of Mad Max is – as always – extremely simple. Max, as always is a lone road warrior, an ex-cop who is haunted by the brutal murder of his daughter and wife. You could almost take “haunted” in the literal sense here, since he can’t stop seeing visions of his “demonic” daughter and wife both who he couldn’t save. It almost makes you think about Japanese horror flicks and games – it’s perhaps a bit too much.
Other than that, the simplicity of the story works very well once again. Fortunately there aren’t long scenes with Max’s late wife and daughter, nor overlong monologues with Immortan Joe, the main dictator antagonist of the movie (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who was Toecutter, the leader of the gang in the first Mad Max movie).
In this world there’s a total dictatorship with Immortan Joe and his army of sadistic, white skinned, tattooed soldiers and slaves. Joe’s rule is based on the ownership of water, the only real value (besides gasoline) in this post-apocalyptic world. People are flocking to Immortan Joe’s big fortress to adore him and receive life giving water. Nothing else is explained and nothing else needs to be – we all know very well everything about Mad Max’s world.
While the first three Mad Max movies were nothing short of excellent visually, all this is reaching its apotheosis in this latest addition. In an action movie world dominated by cartoonishly over-the-top CGI effects and rapid-fire quick cuts, it’s exhilarating to see so many set pieces and battle sequences filmed in unbroken tracking shots, some breath-taking wide angle views and visceral, gritty close-ups.
After an opening chase sequence more ambitious and visually stunning than the climactic scenes in most big-budget action films, Max is held captive in the Citadel, a canyon city in which the great unwashed masses await commands (and rations of water) from the all-powerful and all-hideous Immortan Joe, a ghoulish sicko with a skeleton face mask and his own personal harem of supermodel-gorgeous “breeders.” (In a nice touch, Hugh Keays-Byrne, who was the infamous Toecutter in the first “Mad Max” movie, plays Joe.)
As for Max, he’s literally a human blood bag — a “universal donor” hooked up to an IV to provide fuel to Nux (Nicholas Hoult), one of the hundreds of young “War Boys” feverishly devoted to the cult of Immortan Joe. The War Boys sound like brainwashed terrorists, spouting verbal garbage about the glories of reaching the gates of Valhalla where they will be born again under the approving eyes of Immortan Joe. They’re half-mad warrior-fools.
Mad Max and Mad Maxine (Furiosa)
Since the story is so simplistic, we won’t spoil anything else – suffice to say that Max and the Furiosa (Charlize Theron), one of the Imperators of Immortan Joe’s teams up to escape from Joe with his “harem” of beautiful girls and “wives”.
Every actors and actresses gives their best, but perhaps it’s still Tom Hardy who steals the show. He worked very hard to equal Mel Gibson’s acting as Max – without trying to copy him – and it worked extremely well. He’s the road warrior par excellence: he only speaks when he really needs to and he’s extremely brutal and effective when his life is threatened. This is a world about survival and his only goal is indeed to survive – and to be left alone with his demons.
On the other hand Charlize Theron is not only perfect as Furiosa, but she also gives another perspective to the whole Mad Max storyline. Some says Mad Max became “feminist” thanks to her (and other aspects to story I won’t spoil) but I disagree. Everything fits in this cruel post-apocalyptic world and this includes the role of Furiosa. She’s very headstrong and effective while fighting against Joe’s punks and while having a prosthetic arm, Charlize Theron’s Furiosa still manages to remain seductive.
While she’s equal to Max in everything, she remains still human, and somewhat feminine, but I wouldn’t call the movie feminist. She’s the perfect partner to Max, and besides their own character arc their “relationship” evolves perfectly as well. They are one of the best action duos ever.
Amidst all those ingenious, power-packed road warrior sequences, “Fury Road” contains a surprising amount of depth and character development. There’s not a whole lot of dialogue, and yet Max, Furiosa and Nux experience something akin to growth. Fighting like animals against creatures with not a speck of conscience, they tap into their own humanity.