by: Jay Carlson
About two minutes after the lights go down you’ll have forgotten all about superheroes and Vin Diesels.
Believe the hype, Mad Max: Fury Road is an amazing ride. George Millar splashes the screen with a seemingly neverending orgy of rusty death machines and fucked-up characters the likes of which we’ve never seen on screen before.
The plot is relatively simple. We meet Max (Tom Hardy) moments before he’s pursued and captured by a group of War Boys, creepy bald, pale white “humans” who bring him back to the citadel for use as a human blood bag for other run down War Boys. You see, Max has the misfortune of having type O blood, his veins are pumping with something perhaps as desired as gas and water in this post-apocalyptic wasteland, high-octane blood.
After Max’s daring attempted escape that will have you squirming in your seat, we are introduced to Imperator Furiosa (sure to make next year’s list of top baby names) played by a one armed Charlize Theron, who is preparing a convoy to Gas Town and then the Bullet Farm behind the wheel of her War Rig.
Next we’re introduced to Immortan Joe, the leader of the citadel who wields the power of supplying his people with fresh, clean water over them by occasionally opening the spigots to give them what they crave. He breaths through a respirator that would give Darth Vader nightmares and rules his people with an iron fist.
Shortly after the departure of Furiosa’s convoy we learn that this is not to be a normal run for the War Rig as Furiosa suddenly veers off course into the unknown desert wasteland. It’s here that we learn Furiosa is carrying perhaps the most important cargo, citadel Leader Immortan Joe’s precious wives and they’re making a run for freedom.
It’s here that the film shifts into overdrive, Immortan Joe calls his war boy’s to action to pursue and recover his property. Nicholas Hoult (Beast from X-Men: First Class) plays War Boy, Nux. At the time of Immortan Joe’s call to arms Nux is being revitalized by Max’s high octane blood. Since he’s not quite topped off he decides to strap Max to the front of his pursuit vehicle to keep the blood flowing so he doesn’t miss out on his opportunity to prove his meddle.
That’s the main thrust of the film, it’s a two hour chase film without any needless expositional dialogue. It sounds like it shouldn’t work but Miller and his actor’s pack more heart and depth into their small exchanges than most films with scripts the size of phonebooks could only hope to achieve.
To say anymore would be a giving up too much. Fury Road something you have to experience. Find the biggest screen with the loudest sound possible. I’ve seen the film twice so far, both times in 2D, but I’ve heard the 3D conversion is excellent so I know I’ll be seeing it that way in the near future, most likely more than once.
Hardy steps into the iconic role that Mel Gibson brought to life in the three previous Mad Max films and makes it his own. He speaks very little but gives us a LOT with the few words he’s given. We see that Max is haunted by the ghosts of his past throughout the film. When Fury Road opens we truly find out how mad Max has become. Actions are the only thing that matter in this world, lucky for us, Max provides plenty of action.
For those wondering, the film does not rely on having seen the previous films, Fury Road stands completely on it’s own. If you are familiar with the previous films, even better as Miller certainly provides homages, from bringing back Hugh Keays-Byrne (Toecutter from the original Mad Max) to gags like Max grabbing a shotgun and trying to fire it only to have it fizzle, which made me and a couple other fans laugh out loud in the theater.
Theron proves to be the real hero of the film though, she’s the one character who is striving to do the right things in a
world gone completely crazy. A character fighting to maintain sense and sanity as the world plunges further into the
depths of hell. Miller makes her Max’s equal, not some damsel in distress. None of the women are really damsels in distress, which is very refreshing, as all are empowered and jump in on the action when needed.
The only thing crazier than this world Miller has created is the scary and depraved characters he’s filled it with. When I heard that there was a rig full of drummers and amps stacked ridiculously high with a mutant guitar player on bungee cords whose guitar shoots fire, I thought that that was the most silliest thing I’d ever heard of, but after seeing it in context it’s still crazy as hell but it makes perfect sense that this group on insaniacs would want someone playing a soundtrack as they went out on their pursuit. Even though it’s all only hinted at, I believe Miller knows the backstory to each and every one of all of these characters and it shows. I’d watch a separate film about nearly any of these characters in this fucked up world. Miller’s world of Fury Road feels hot and sticky and rusty and completely lived in. It’s almost as if, with each new vehicle welded to the top of another vehicle, another layer of humanity has been peeled away from the world that existed before it, and there are some VERY tall vehicles in this film.
It’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who brought us such family friendly films as Babe and Happy Feet. Most director’s at Miller’s age (he’s 70) are slowing down and their work usually reflects it as well. Miller’s work on Mad Max: Fury Road proves that this doesn’t have to be the case. I’d hope that Quentin Tarantino takes note of Fury Road, as he’s mentioned in the past that he wants to get out early rather than staying too long. Miller is living proof that filmmakers can still make films at the highest level at an advanced age.
Mad Max: Fury Road was in my top three most anticipated films of 2015 and I couldn’t be happier with it. It delivered high-octane thrills while gleefully cup checking the other action films of the summer. There are no pretty boy actors with manicured eyebrows standing in front of green screens in Miller’s world yapping about “family.” There are men who act like men and badass women who could teach the Dominic Toretto’s how to really drive a car.
If you’re looking for action this summer look no further than Mad Max: Fury Road. Believe everything you’ve heard, this is THE film of the summer.