My Greatest Films Review: Mad Max Fury Road
Better late than never hey?
“My name is Max. My world is fire and blood.”
On hearing those words, I knew beyond all reasonable doubt;
Mad Max is back.
At least that’s what I told myself when I saw the posters with Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron on them. I was slightly resentful; I couldn’t let go of the images of Mel Gibson in dusty dirty leather driving the custom job Pursuit Special along the deserts of Australia looking for bad guys to devour, his demeanor as bleak as the landscapes he moves within. But then, I remembered Hardy from Rock ‘N Rolla and The Dark Knight Rises and I figured I could trust him.
Intentionally, I stayed away from the trailers as much as I could because I didn’t want to spoil my sense of anything. I wanted to go in the cinema free of opinion as humanly possible.
I saw Fury Road same night I saw Ant Man – and then; promising a review I went to see Fury Road again. I didn’t want anything to color my view; same reason I stayed away from the trailers. And then, for some reason I couldn’t put together a review. And by the time I had myself in hand, there just didn’t seem to be any point.
So why am I doing this now?
Well, this is coming because two of my pals – special pals – Akintunde and Deoye asked me to write it. So fellas, here’s to you.
Thirty years after the third Mad Max film (Beyond Thunderdome with Mel Gibson as Max), George Miller, creator and director decides to try again. Failed attempts in 1997, 2001 and 2003 regardless, Miller decided to pursue the film again after working on the successful Happy Feet movie. Gibson at this point was too old to play Max, and besides had his issues so Miller moved past him and casted Tom Hardy after Heath Ledger passed. Filming was done in 2012 and lasted 120 days. The result?
Mad Max is second most nominated movie in this year’s Oscars, second to The Revenant (read that review here), also starring Hardy. Is it that man’s time or what?
The first few seconds of the movie are caught up in painting a picture of the fall of man and civilization as we know it. News reports interspersed with images of storms, explosions and riots set the tone for the film – and then abruptly, the image cuts to a shrouded Max standing and staring at nothing – until he suddenly stomps on a two-headed lizard creeping behind him and eats it.
The plot is simple. Max, who says “So I exist in this wasteland. A man, reduced to a single instinct – survival” is captured by a wandering group of War Boys; characters who look like spillover zombies from World War Z. He is tested; and discovered to be of the blood type O – universal donor is branded and turned into a human blood bank to save the life of Nux, an at-once-awkward-yet-charismatic character played with fluidity by Nicholas Hoult.
Everything is scarce in the future painted in Fury Road. Everything; fuel, water and even blood.
Meanwhile, Charlize Theron’s Furiosa is a general in the dictator Immortan Joe’s ‘employ’, such as it is. Immortan looks like the grandfather of the War Boys; a pale half-dead imposing hulk with a grinning breathing apparatus for a face. Played with subtle aggression by Hugh Keays Byrne, the bad guy Toadcutter in the first Mad Max movie.
Random Fact: Tom Hardy was only six months old when the first Mad Max film was being made.
Furiosa is sent on a mission to find gasoline. Watching from the citadel he calls home, Immortan realizes something is wrong when his most trusted general suddenly drives off route. Charging into his apartment, he finds that five of his women or ‘breeders’ as he calls them are missing. Furiosa has abducted them and is taking them to The Green Place, a paradise of sorts she grew up in and hasn’t visited for nineteen and so years.
Then begins a road chase of high octane energy belonging in the wastelands they were shot in. Visually, Miller serves a full plate of dry desert landscapes during the day, waterlogged marshes at night – and a particularly scary-looking sandstorm that looks like something from a Stephen King novel that came to life. The energy is kept on an even keel throughout the movie, and the action scenes/sequences are just as intense.
What makes Fury Road special for me is the emotional core that such a supposed heartless and dumb action movie possesses. Max goes from the lone soldier who wants to survive to the leader who takes care and guides the girls and Furiosa and her people (from the once-Green-Place-now-barren desert) back to their real home – Immortan’s Citadel. He saves Furiosa’s life by stabbing her in the side to relieve pressure from her collapsed lung – and then gives her an impromptu blood transfusion. Nux bonds emotionally with the beautiful Riley Keough’s redheaded character, telling her about being a failure because three times the great doors of Valhalla (‘hall of the slain’ in Norse mythology where the honorable dead go) opened up for him, and three times he failed. Nux is presented as a suicide case; from the beginning of the movie it’s clear he wants to die; we know he is going to – but it still hurts slightly when he does, sacrificing himself to save the rest.
The War Boys are post-apocalyptic versions of suicide bombers – rushing into battle headlong and carelessly, hoping to die with dignity. You can see the jealousy on their faces as they watch another of their numbers die grimly.
I like how the movie was made; a new movie if you’re unaware of the Mel Gibson trilogy, a continuation if you’re a fan. It simply continues breathing and doesn’t miss a step.
There’s so much to say about the movie – and I have prattled long enough already. If you are yet to see it, see that you do. You would at least want to know why I would just be reviewing a movie that was in the cinemas almost a year ago – and you should want to know why it’s on my list of Greatest Movies of All Time.
Don’t worry. You’ll meet them all in due time.
Meanwhile, you can still catch Tom Hardy’s cool coldness in The Revenant, still showing.
I’m holding my breath for the next installment in the Mad Max franchise.