Film Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

Tuesday 16 June 2015 by

Mad Max: Fury Road, Film, Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Movie

My Twitter, Facebook, pub socials and office kitchen have all been filled with praise for Mad Max: Fury Road, but it took me this long to even get around to seeing it.

I’ve seen bits of the previous Mad Max films and have enjoyed what I’ve seen, but from all accounts, this latest outing is bigger, better, and much more satisfying. And for the most part, I would agree.

I could go in to paroxysms of glee over the high-octane action sequences, the brutal, ear-bending soundtrack, and the most obvious point – the feminist cartwheels it just did all over Max (Tom Hardy). Although I expect you’ve heard all of those things before.

And it’s well-justified. There is a carnal, Lord of the Flies atmosphere about the whole film – tribal and vicious, it is unrelenting in its visual bombardment. Set almost entirely on Fury Road, it means that a good 80% of the film is shot in motion – there is rarely a halted moment, and these are all the more highlighted by the absence of noise. The pauses between the sequences are alarmingly brief, and unnervingly quiet – no flame-throwing electric guitar or tribal drums, no haunting classical piano to highlight the eeriness of the setting. Nothing. It’s like someone claps their hands over your ears. But these moments are short, and for the remainder of the film, your senses are overwhelmed with noise and movement.

The whole production is astonishing, and admirable beyond belief. And the characters (even Rosie Huntingon-Whiteley’s vanilla performance) are perfectly at home.

I suppose I should address Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), because – let’s face it – it’s less about Max and much more about this brittle, hardened warrior. Theron is a phenomenal actor (see the horrendous Snow White film where she is the only redemptive feature) and she slots in to Furiosa’s boots with ease. You instantly fall in love with her – and wish you were her. The others are just the chorus to her superstardom.

The greater issue is the fact that the whole plot spins on the one theme: women are there to breed, and you don’t steal from the warlord. We could highlight the themes that this raises in modern society, but suffice to say it is executed with not a small degree of sensitivity – there are no rape scenes, no trigger-sensitive and utterly superfluous moments (you don’t even have a blossoming romance to soften the film – for once). In fact, this is a much more empowering battle. The women are the strong ones – the sensible ones, and the hopeful ones. The men are violent, misguided, and ultimately weakened… apart from Max and Nux (Nicholas Hoult). And I’m going to take a moment here to salute Nux; perhaps one of the most under-used characters in the whole film. Hoult plays the fine line between man and boy. Fanatical and crazed, Hoult counters Nux’s violence with moments of extreme tenderness, revealing the character’s vulnerability. After all, he is just a boy.

There are so many films that you simply must see on the big screen, but I urge you to see this one in the cinema. The scale of the production, the complexity of the action sequences, are simply made for a huge screen with surround sound. This is Mad Max on steroids. Mad Max fully loaded. This is what all action films should be.

There is only one downside. The ending. It was the biggest balloon-deflating moment I think I’ve ever seen. It rivals all those bad endings in books that I constantly complain about. I mean… really!? I wanted something harder, more final. Maybe more Game of Thrones. The whole film seems driven to a spectacular finale without compromise. And then… *balloon deflating noise* it just sort of… ends. I understand that they probably want to leave it open for a sequel, but I also feel that this should not be a film to be added to. Look at Jurassic Park (latest film excluded). Nothing could top it, and Mad Max: Fury Road should have had that same full stop. It feels like a shame to end such a brilliant action film with that.

But, all in all, Mad Max: Fury Road deserves its praise, its pub-social-worthy status. It deserves to be seen on the big screen and enjoyed in all its mind-bending, adrenaline-injection, feminist glory.

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