Genre: Action and Adventure, Thriller
Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Nathan Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Riley Keough, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton
Release Date: May 15th, 2015
Mad Max: Fury Road is an unapologetic action film and it feels like all of the filmmakers relished in that fact. Instead of being loud and obnoxious though, information pills the high-octane action scenes that dominant this film are beautifully crafted— inviting audiences to both enjoy the spectacle and to appreciate the undeniable beauty of the presentation.
The well-chosen Tom Hardy plays the title character as a quiet but powerful man who knows how to survive in a desperate apocalyptic world. Early on, more about he’s kidnapped by a psychotic group led by the monstrous Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a dictator who uses kidnapped women for breeding purposes and who controls a main water source. “Do not, my friends, become addicted to water,” he notes to the masses after offering them a glimpse of his supply. One of Joe’s closest allies, named Imperator Furiosa and played by Charlize Theron, sees the leader as he truly is and threatens to unravel his world.
She rescues some of the women he’s kidnapped (some of whom are pregnant with his children) and attempts to bring them to the Green Place, a beautiful area she once knew. Joe, with his army of obsessively-devoted followers chases Furiosa’s rig through the dessert in order to prevent that escape.
Director George Miller, who co-wrote the script with Brendan McCarthy and Nick Lathouris, shows his mastery of the action scenes here time and time again. The chase scenes flow magnificently with the characters involved in them moving like dancers on a stage. Despite an abundance of characters in the chase scenes (including a gutsy guitar player who amplifies the exhilaration), it’s easy to follow the action and appreciate the planning and thought that went into staging these visually stunning events. The setting may be an empty desert but that only complements the proceedings.
Cinematographer John Seale, working alongside Miller, has created a unique and beautiful world in this film with grim colors and images that help define this cruel landscape. Despite us only seeing limited sections of this post-apocalyptic wasteland, the distinctive set only invites imaginative viewers to see this as one part of a massive but desperate place.
Like the world they live in, the story is sparse leaving little time for the characters to grow. The performances by Hardy and Theron though help define these two main characters as solitary loners who are simply trying to survive the hellish world they live in. In a world dominated by death and violence, their characters are guarded by the reality that anyone could betray them and that death could be only a moment away.
In a unique turn, Max is sidelined in one of the first major action scenes as he’s tied up to the front of a vehicle driven by Nux (Nicholas Hoult), one of the members of Joe’s army who is using Max for a blood transfusion. He’s literally prevented from moving in the midst of a battle scene where explosions are rampant and weapons are being fired all around him. Max’s vulnerable position though helps us appreciate the action around him.
Miller makes similar distinctive choices that really set up this film to be more unique and captivating than it would’ve been in the hands of a less experienced director. Between 1979 and 1985, Miller directed the three previous Max films so it’s been nearly three decades since he brought this character to life.
In Mad Max: Fury Road, he shows that the character is alive and kicking and he also reminds us that action scenes can be beautiful and electric affairs if they are placed in the hands of a gifted filmmaker.
Review by: John Hanlon