Tuesday, September 22, 2015

#1,863. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) - Spotlight on Australia

Directed By: George Miller

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Tag line: "Only the Mad Survive"

Trivia: Over 80% of the effects seen in the film are practical effects, stunts, make-up and sets

It took 30 years for director George Miller to get around to the next installment in his Mad Max series, and believe me, it was worth the wait! 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road is more than a cinematic assault on the senses. It’s a goddamn blitzkrieg! This movie will leave you stunned, worn out, and thoroughly entertained.

The road warrior, aka Max (Tom Hardy), continues to roam the wastelands of Australia, doing whatever is necessary to survive. After a run-in with a group of heavily armed marauders known as the War Boys, Max is taken prisoner and forced to serve as a permanent blood donor for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a sickly War Boy with a life-threatening illness. 

The War Boys are the faithful servants of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the tyrannical leader of a desert community. In an effort to obtain more fuel for his vast army of vehicles, Immortan Joe sends one of his most trusted lieutenants, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), to Gas Town, a nearby refinery. Driving a fuel tanker, Furiosa and her War Boy escorts head into the desert...

But Furiosa eventually changes course.

As it turns out, she had no intention of going to Gas Town, and is instead on a mission of mercy to deliver Immortan Joe’s five wives, Capable (Riley Keough), Cheedo (Courtney Eaton), the Dag (Abbey Lee), Toast the Knowing (Zoe Kravitz) and the very pregnant Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), to the safety of the “Green Place”, an idyllic oasis where Immortan Joe cannot reach them. 

The moment they realize what Furiosa is up to, Joe and his remaining War Boys climb into their vehicles and give chase, driving as fast as possible to overtake her and “rescue” the wives. Not wanting to miss out on such a glorious hunt, the weakened Nux hops into a car and, with his “blood bag” Max strapped to the hood, joins the others in their high-speed pursuit.

Tom Hardy steps nicely into the role of Max (previously portrayed by Mel Gibson), and plays the character with plenty of gusto. But what surprised me most about Mad Max: Fury Road is that Max himself was relegated to a supporting role... in his own film! For the first hour or so, Max is either in prison or chained to the front of a car doing well over 100 miles per hour. In his place, we have Charlize Theron as Furiosa, who, despite missing an arm, is every bit as tough as Max, and a lot smarter than the War Boys. 

As for the film’s heavy, Hugh Keays-Byrne (who was Toecutter in the original Mad Max) reminded me of the Humongous from The Road Warrior: like that earlier character, his Immortan Joe is an imposing figure hidden behind a mask, and has an entire army at his disposal. The rest of the supporting roles are also well-cast, especially Nicholas Hoult as the maniacal Nux. 

The film's wildest character, however, is one that never utters a word: The Doof Warrior (played by Australian singer / songwriter Iota), a War Boy who, as Immortan Joe is chasing Furiosa, stands perched on an over-sized vehicle, performing rock music as flames shoot from his guitar! The Doof Warrior steals damn near every scene, providing Joe and his troops with their own soundtrack as they speed through the desert. In a movie filled with awesome characters, the Doof Warrior is the most fascinating of them all.

As with the previous movies, George Miller and his team create a convincing post-apocalyptic world for Mad Max: Fury Road (Immortan Joe’s headquarters, with its poverty-stricken minions and man-made waterfall, is damn cool). More than anything, though, Mad Max: Fury Road is a high-octane action film, with one amazing sequence after another. As with Mad Max and its sequels, director Miller used practical effects - as opposed to CGI - for the majority of the chase scenes, giving them a realistic feel while at the same time ratcheting the tension up as high as it will go. 

It’s damned difficult to pick a single moment from Mad Max: Fury Road that's my “favorite”, but if I had to choose one, it would be the sand storm. I was so wowed by this sequence that I had to immediately watch it again. As good as the action scenes are in the series’ other entries, Mad Max: Fury Road may actually have them beat.

Hands down, Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the decade's best action films. After nearly thirty years, “Mad” Max Rockatansky hasn’t lost his edge.

Nor, for that matter, has George Miller.


SJHoneywell said...

Completely agree. I saw this in the theater and got exactly what I wanted--a 2-hour action movie trailer.

I rewatched it a couple of nights ago, and it was still just as much fun.

Solomon Grundy said...

Awesome movie. Really over the top fun and violent.