Wow. I saw Mad Max: Fury Road about a week ago and as time passes I like it more and more. The trailer mildly intrigued me with its eye-popping cinematography, bolstered by the promise of Tom Hardy (The Drop) and Charlize Theron (A Million Ways To Die in the West), both of whom have been impressive in action-packed roles. I was just a little shorty doo-wop when the 1985 iteration of Mad Max was released, so I’d never seen the post-apocalyptic desert tale. Sci-Fi is not my favorite genre, but it felt lazy to just dismiss Fury Road as being similar to the explosive tripe we’ve come to expect from Michael Bay recently –although there was no shortage of explosions. Undoubtedly this movie won’t be for everyone, but it was a weirdly awesome treat, a beautiful, minimalist non-stop ride.
Mad Max was unique in that there was little dialogue and not much overt plot development. A few early, key scenes clued me in to the overall plot, and the rest of the movie just flowed naturally from its initial premise. Hardy stars as the titular Max, while Theron is Imperator Furiosa, aligned with the evil Immortan Joe, a ruler who emerged after an apocalypse decimated the earth leaving only sand behind. Fuel and water are at a premium, and Joe lords the precious commodities over the poverty-stricken lower class. Joe enslaves the people he rules and even those he holds closer, having a harem of young women with whom he procreates.
When Max escapes Joe’s clutches, he sends his gang of minions out to retrieve him. Furiosa has been dispatched, but inexplicably veers off course. The rogue Furiosa and desperate Max become unexpected allies, both railing against crippling oppression. Furiosa has Joe’s harem in tow, liberating the young women while searching for her homeland, a utopia known as the Green Place, where water and life abound. The movie is largely one big pursuit, as Max and Furiosa traverse a vast stretch of desert, beautiful while reflecting the barrenness of the times.
Mad Max was intense, characterized by the stark punk rocker imagery of the characters and their desperate, survivalist behavior. It was a visceral experience with nary a moment of calm. There were no lulls in the movie, and my senses were assaulted for nearly two hours. Director George Miller masterfully depicted futuristic warfare while employing modern twists on traditional elements of the battlefield. During the Revolutionary War, colonial soldiers may have marched forward while sounding a war drum or bugle. Here, Immortan Joe employs a rocker affixed to the front of his vehicle, shredding away on a blaring electric guitar. Awesome.
Here, the landscape was just as much of a character as Max and Furiosa. The setting was one of the most stunning aspects of the film, and there was a weird paradox at play. The desert shows no sign of vitality. Yet it’s coppery beauty was something to behold, utterly mesmerizing. If you think weird is good, this is the movie for you. There was literally never a dull moment, and I felt like I got my money’s worth. It was a visual treat not to be missed. Grade: A