"An apocalyptic action flick that isnâ€™t a downer"
If you watch movie trailers youâ€™ll discover that there is often a correlation between how good a trailer looks and how bad the movie actually is (think Man of Steel); as a trailer cutter explained during an interview â€śWeâ€™re often called on to polish a turdâ€ť. Which is why the trailer for Mad Max Fury Road was so worrisome: with astonishing stunts, a pulsing soundtrack and fantastic, almost surreal visuals it set off the alarm bells. Thankfully not all things are too good to be true.Max's (Tom Hardy) daily survival stroll is rudely interrupted by a party of War Boys who take him prisoner and drag him back to The Citadel. The seeming oasis is actually hell for those on the ground who struggle for daily survival in the desert wasteland, and their only reprieve is the occasional dribbles of water doled out by demented leader Immortan Joe ( Hugh Keays-Byrne). Max suddenly finds himself as a pawn in the dash to retrieve priceless stolen cargo, when Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) - one of the Joeâ€™s most trusted drivers â€“ goes rogue. After dabbling in kiddy flicks like Babe and Happy Feet, George Miller has finally returned to the genre (survival-in-a-dystopian-future-flick) that he helped to create over 30 years ago and the series that epitomized it . And while it's hard to know what to call Fury Road - it's not really a re-boot (as it touches on things from the original series) and it's not strictly speaking a sequel or a prequel â€“ we're just damn lucky to have him back.
Within moments of the "introduction" we're launched into a fever pitched chase scene of epic proportions featuring the hallmarks Millerâ€™s earlier work is known for - imaginative camera work, near-seizure inducing quick-edits and general insanity. And Miller continues to ramp things up; from the other-worldly saturated palette, to some of the most amazingly choreographed and death defying stunts that donâ€™t rely on green screen, to the devilishly outlandish vehicles and most innovative thrash metal youâ€™ll ever hear and see, everything is set to 11. The cast are no slouches either.
Tom Hardy's man-of-few-words Max is appropriately wearied and mad (in both senses of the word) and handles the mantle as good as, or better than Mel Gibson as, quite simply, Hardy is a much better actor (even if his accent has a tendency to slip). Nicholas Hoult is positively manic as Nux, the methed up fanatic willing to die for a cause that doesnâ€™t exist and Hugh Keays-Byrne's Joe is delightfully demented on a grand scale. Ironically in a movie named Mad Mas, it is Charlize Theron who proves to be the standout: as Furiosa she displays both steely eyed determination and ferocity, yet balances it with vulnerability. There's also a story amidst the explosions.
In spite of the bluster, there is some skillful subtlety at play, indeed one of the best elements of the story is watching the organic evolution between Hardy and Theron's characters and the power balance the swings back and forth. While I wouldn't go so far as to call Fury Road a feminist manifesto female empowerment definitely plays a powerful role here. Miller also isnâ€™t afraid to use the War Boys as a metaphor for the dangers of fanaticism.Fury Road is not only packed with enough exhaust and testosterone to out crazy a Monster truck rally, it is also visually engaging (simultaneously gorgeous and ugly), aurally invasive and features a multi-layered storyline with characters that will draw you in and leave you exhausted. Bar none the best pure action flick in a very long time.