Review - Mad Max Fury Road
By midlandsmovies, May 29 2015 09:53AM
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Dir. George Miller
Out of the desert of action films that plague the box office each summer, you may get one film (two if you’re lucky) that surprises and gives a new twist on the blockbuster formula. And George Miller has delivered that twist and then some! Wiping the slate clean (Miller has wisely ditched most of the connection with Mel Gibson’s previous trilogy), the film does not get bogged down in exposition, and sometimes dialogue, to get its point across.
The story is simple – Max is an apocalyptic outlaw captured by a cult and whose universal blood is much sought after, whilst Charlize Theron’s Furiosa tries to escape with a group of young brides who are being used as “baby-carriers” for cult leader Immortan Joe. The two cross paths in what is essentially one long road journey as the cult give chase across the outback and canyons.
Also in the mix is Nicholas Hoult who gives a brash performance as Nux, a lowly warrior in the group who seeks approval from his leader but ultimately comes to question his motives.
The film’s brilliance lies not only in the chase (which takes up almost the entirety of the film’s length) and special F/X – real life modified trucks, bikes, cars and lorries are used and crashed to spectacular effect – but in what Miller withholds. Gone is long dialogue explaining people’s back-story. Gone is an endless amount of dialogue used to explain and convey emotions. Characters’ motivations can be seen on their face as bright as the desert sun. Hardy, as Max, and Theron say so much with their non verbal communication that dialogue seems an unnecessary distraction.
Visually the film is stunning. The desert landscapes are sometimes augmented with CGI (a dust storm sequence is still thrilling with sand seemingly leaving the screen and getting in your eyes) but the sometimes brash saturation of red and yellows pop from the film in glorious colour. Miller compliments this with more subtle blues at dusk and strange images of stilt-walking desert dwellers and pyromaniac guitar rockers.
The costume design is also something to behold. Characters avoid Hollywood stereotypes and with a dusty steampunk aesthetic, the oily tubes, face masks and albino makeup it is both in one case extreme but so perfect for the film’s concept.
Theron, who I’ve liked in Prometheus and whose cinematic presence makes even dross like Snow White and the Huntsman and Hancock bearable, is a revelation here. Her one-armed heroine is the true star of the film, trying to survive in a tough patriarchal world against the odds. She fights for freedom and for the girls she has brought along to rediscover a paradise that comes in a form she doesn’t expect but every action has a reason for being on the screen.
Pro-feminist? Anti-men? Ignore these discussions as the film shows what most of us already know. Women can be strong Hollywood heroines, dialogue needn’t be the sole concern, CGI can be kept to a minimum and a unique vision can be hailed by both action fans and critics. Oh and gangs of grandmas can be bad-assed rough-housers with big guns and even bigger attitudes!
Marvellous and miraculous, Mad Max deserves every accolade currently being lavished on it so miss this one at your peril.
Midlands Movies Mike