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Mad Max: Fury Road – Movie Review

Mad Max (poster 1)George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is an absolute cinematic tour de force and the only ones in disagreement are a small group of men who found the women in this movie too strong for their sensitive ego’s and, well….those that require a complex narrative or are less than entertained by epic car chases.

For Max lovers there is a sense of knowing what is coming and as an Australian I went into this with high expectations and a definite sense of the minimum I would need from a series that had had a 30 year hiatus. Personally I wanted crazy characters, iconic lines, and some amazing non CGI car wrecks and George, Tom, Charlize and Nicholas all do an amazing job of bringing character and authenticity to their roles as we the audience are dragged into Millers vision of a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

The film takes place between Road Warrior and Thunderdome, meaning the best-case scenario for Max is winding up with some camels and a caravan to travel in. Our ‘town’ is an oasis with access to clean water and when Max is captured, he is identified as being 0+ blood type meaning he has some use in the world. We have a villain called Immortan Joe who manages to be both terrifying and human at the same time, and having him played by the same actor who played the villain, Toecutter, in the first movie, was a nice nod to the canon of Mad Max. He has created a quasi-religious society based on Viking lore where young men are turned into Warboys whose goal in life is to serve in battle and die on the road that will lead them to Valhalla. He runs his town with the support of two war parties, one, which produces gasoline, and one supplies ammunition, both of which are led by typically larger than life characters with appropriately silly names. When Furiosa played by Charlize, decides to abscond with Joe’s wives on a gas run she has everyone on her tale and she runs into Max, who is forced to help them against his own instincts and wishes.

Mad Max (screenshot 1)This film is simply exploding with character, and very little of it Max, which is how it should be. He is a passenger and a way to drive the story forward but make no mistake, at the end of this movie Max will be lucky if he is in a similar position to where he started out. The setting is magnificent, with rolling desert hills and deep foreboding canyons giving the landscape an inhospitable and alien feel.

We have a cast of strong and beautiful women of multiple generations giving this film a definite feminine edge but all that really means is George pulls no punches and dispatches men and women with equal glee and ferocity. There are some real attempts to subvert some of the common sexist tropes that exist in action movie. Furiosa is driven and determined and on a mission of redemption and at no times is forced to surrender or rely on Max and his manliness. The waif like beauties she is rescuing all manage to shake off the feeling that their victims and revel in their freedom and the fact that their destiny, possibly a desperate one, is at least in their hands. Even Immortan Joe proves to be more than meets the eye when he, without a second’s hesitation, drives him and his sons into a wall to try and avoid running over his unborn child and the mother who is carrying it. The consequences of his efforts are genuinely human and touching moments and it is only through circumstance that he continues the hunt.

Mad Max (screenshot 2)Hoult is exceptional and carries quite a lot of the film, playing a War Boy with a limited life span whose repeated attempts and failures to get to Valhalla make him question the life he been indoctrinated into. You will certainly find yourself yelling “Witness me” within a day or two of leaving the cinema as he really steals the heart of the film.

The references to the old movies are there and are absolutely heart-warming from the familiar ‘Ahaaaaaa’ cries of the kids in Thunderdome to the pickle of being handcuffed to an immovable object and the eerie and fairy like sound of a tiny music box being played on a deathly quiet night. There are more and if you are a fan you will find yourself smiling often especially when you hear names like Rictus Erectus, the People Eater, the Bullet Farmer and Toast the Knowing all of which cannot help but remind you of Humoungous, the Mighty Wez and Auntie Entity from the previous films.

The cars are amazing and just brutally designed with all manner of vehicles being cannibalised for desert warfare. Construction vehicles with giant jaws, old roadsters carrying horizontal spinning saws, low riders with tank tracks and of course the poor bastards that get relegated to riding motor cycles, aka fodder.

Mad Max (screenshot 3)

The soundtrack is brilliant and is truly a character in the film. How could it not be when one of the main chase cars has four drummers on the back and a blind man on Thunderdome elastic playing electric guitar mounted on the front? This guy is awesome as he himself wakes to find the chase beginning and leaps gleefully up to shred out some motivational chords for everyone else to get pumped up to. If I could have this guy in my car for every road trip I would.

Mad Max (poster 2)My only complaint is that there was nothing quintessentially Australian about the movie. Charlize is South African, Tom is English and Hoult is American meaning we had a fair hodge podge of accents with no one really committing to anything but ‘understandable’. Much of the supporting cast is Australian, but other than a single moment when Hoult refers to his cancerous tumors as Larry and Barry, his ‘mates’, there seems almost an attempt to ensure this story cannot be locked down to any continent. It makes the story universal and it certainly won’t register with or annoy any other cultures, so I understand the choice but all the same it was missing something.

Miller has knocked it out of the park with this movie. It explodes as a story, yet gives you time to catch your breath and bask in the world he has built, before dragging you kicking and screaming back down the same road from hell you just escaped. I understand there are more Max movies in the works but considering the achievement of this one I’d almost consider quitting whilst ahead. I can’t imagine anyone topping the car chases scenes or the wealth of character and morbidity that I was just treated too….but I can’t wait to see them try.

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Rating: 9.7/10 (9 votes cast)
Mad Max: Fury Road - Movie Review, 9.7 out of 10 based on 9 ratings
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4 Comments

  1. Unknown says:

    If accents sounded all over the place, then what to make out of a bunch of Russians on spiked buggies? Sure, Australia perhaps has a huge Russian diaspora now, but them still speaking Russian 40+ years past Apocalypse?
    Yet – still not implausible, of course.
    I’ve never been to Australia, but the movie definitely had strong Australian feel to me. Mostly – because it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in the context of the other 3 Mad Max films, which are quintessentially Australian. While there might be people who’ve never seen those prior to seeing Fury Road, for sure even they would’ve done some sort of homework to learn about the setting.

  2. Perloo says:

    “I am the Nightrider!!!”

  3. Hansen says:

    The females themselves did not bother me, but I have to confess I was not that excited about the “male hate” for the lack of a better description, amongst Furiosa’s tribe. They used a bait to attract males they would then kill, no matter if they were there to rape or save the damsel in distress. One of the pregnant girls says her son is probably going to be ugly, and the older woman replies “it could be a girl”. And during the chase they said “one man, one bullet”. They clearly had issues about men, not just bad men, but men in general. The difference between the villains and them is that their attitude towards men was accepted and never questioned, even if they clearly changed their mind about Mad Max and Nux. Other than that I didn’t mind any of the characters.

  4. Charlie says:

    Nice thoughts Hansen.

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