Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

Holy. Fucking. Crap.

You need to see this movie. Like, right now.

Seriously, go and see it. I’ll wait.

… Wasn’t that movie just the best?!

Oh my god.

 

There are so many reasons I love this movie. This is actually one of the best actions films in recent memory, and certainly one of the best overall films of the year.

I’m gonna list all the reasons I love this movie, and rant about it for a while. This probably won’t be a normal review, it’ll probably read more like a child talking about his favourite Batman toy.

And of course, for the 3 or so people in the world who haven’t seen it because you assumed I was joking at the beginning of the article: SPOILER ALERT.

01 Banner

Ok, now firstly I’ll do a brief synopsis, and then I’ll get right into it.

So Mad Max: Fury Road is a sequel to the previous Mad Max films, obviously. I’m really glad about this because for a long time I thought it would be a reboot, discounting the original movies which would have been a big mistake. This story follows Max as he is captured by the “War Boys” – a cult-like gang of warriors led by a terrifying and insane-looking guy called Immortan Joe. Max is used as a “blood bag” – an unwilling blood donor – for a sick War Boy called Nux. We then go to a character called Imperator Furiosa, who is leaving on a mission to obtain gasoline, a rare resource in the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max. Almost immediately after Furiosa leaves, however, she veers off course for no apparent reason. Immortan Joe sees this and then realises that Furiosa has taken his “five wives”; Women who are selected to be used for breeding by Immortan Joe (yeah, he’s a sick guy). Immortan Joe then gathers his entire army of War Boys and pursues Furiosa across the post-apocalyptic desert to reclaim his wives.

From there the film is an almost literally non-stop car chase with a truly obscene amount of explosions and gunfire. Mad Max is kept in the story by way of Nux needing to strap him to his car when he leaves (to continue the blood “donation”) to help Immortan Joe. So yeah, for a decent portion of the movie, Max looks like this:

02 Max

ANYWAY, I’m gonna get straight into listing the reasons why I love this movie:

 

1): The Practical Effects

Literally every single thing happening in this shot happened for real.

Literally every single thing happening in this shot happened for real.

Now this topic alone is something I could rant about for hours. I’m very passionate about practical effects in film, and I think that it’s something movies have been lacking for quite a while. But lately, we’ve seen a resurgence of a more traditional method of film-making, and it couldn’t not have come sooner. Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the films that tried as much as possible to avoid using CGI, and you can tell the difference. That is the biggest thing about special effects in film: You can tell the difference. Everyone knows when the crazy explosion they just saw was created on a computer. We know when real cars are flipping and when fake, CGI cars are flipping. It’s not difficult. I compared this film to Avengers: Age of Ultron because that was the most recent action movie I saw before Fury Road. There is no competition. I mean, I love superhero movies, and Age of Ultron was a lot of fun, but it had no weight to it. There was no sense of consequence to the action. Mad Max: Fury Road is an entirely different breed. I have never before seen an action sequence in a film that lasts for so long without losing tension. I was barely breathing throughout the action scenes in Mad Max, and for anyone who’s seen it, that’s a dangerous amount of not breathing. This movie grabs you by the face from the first frame and drags you along for the ride without ever slowing down. In Fury Road, when something explodes, you flinch. When a gun is fired, you flinch. When someone is punched, you flinch. This movie has so much power, and so much consequence, that I would not be surprised if it caused some heart attacks in audience members.

This film is a clear and compelling reason for Hollywood to start using CGI less and practical effects more.

 

2): The Characters

Road Trip!

Road Trip!

Now Fury Road got a lot of shit from people because Max Rockatansky is not technically the main character in the film. The majority of the people who complained, however, were “men’s rights activists” (aka losers) who argued that they had been duped by action scenes into seeing “feminist propaganda”. They disagreed with a man having less screen time and less dialogue than a woman; and thought that a man having to be beside a woman who is strong enough to take care of herself and strong enough to fight and beat men is attacking their way of life. This issue is way bigger than the article I’m writing now, and I’d rather not spend the rest of the article focusing on a separate issue, so let’s just say that people upset over Max not getting enough screen time are idiots and leave it at that.

Anyway, the characters in this film are amazing. The “five wives”, though initially giving off the impression of victims, are each individually strong and diverse characters with different opinions and different motivations that are explored as the story progresses. They are a group of women who are kept captive by Immortan Joe for the sole purpose of bearing him sons to add to the ranks of War Boys. They are strong and capable people who are finally given the chance to fight back against their oppressors. The character’s names, in keeping with Mad Max tradition, are really weird: “The Splendid Angharad” (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley); “Capable” (Riley Keough); “Toast the Knowing” (Zoe Kravitz); “The Dag” (Abbey Lee); and “Cheedo the Fragile” (Courtney Eaton).

Angharad is pregnant with Immortan Joe’s child when they make their escape, which obviously makes her journey much more difficult than it would have otherwise been. She is

Capable is a great character as she is the first one to show compassion to Nux, before she is even sure of his motivations. She demonstrates an otherwise incredibly rare level of humanity in a brutal, unforgiving world.

Toast is headstrong and unwavering. She is taken captive again briefly in the course of events by Joe, and even still does not show any weakness.

The Dag has an aggressive and mischievous personality that is demonstrated in her verbal attacks on the War Boys, even in the heat of battle.

Cheedo is an interesting character. She is the only one of the wives who is actually unwilling to try to escape from Joe’s captivity. She has grown to accept the world she lives in and might even have developed something similar to Stockholm Syndrome, as she tries to go back to Joe at the earliest opportunity to do so. She does develop strength over the course of the film though, and grows to realise that life without Immortan Joe is definitely a good thing. All the “wives” were incredibly well cast and work well together as a team.

05 The Wives

Max is a great character as well, and worked well as a mysterious, not fully explored figure. I think that using Max as more of a companion actually works in his favour in this film, as it grants him the same atmosphere as, say, Boba Fett in the original trilogy. We know he’s a bad-ass, and his abilities are hinted at, but we don’t know what he’s fully capable of and that makes him all the more scary and interesting.

04.2 Furiosa

Imperator Furiosa is absolutely brilliant, and I’m a fan of Charlize Theron, so I love her character. She has the same kind of mysterious air as Mad Max himself, and I think that they revealed the perfect amount of the character’s personality and ability; she is clearly an incredibly capable warrior, as seen when she fights Max and several other characters. She has a brutal past, as seen in the fact that she is missing an arm and by the haunted look in her eyes and her general demeanour (all aspects of a stunning performance by Theron). But they also left a lot to the imagination, which is something not often seen in film any more. Hollywood have gotten into a habit of justifying and explaining every little detail about every little aspect of every film they make. It’s ridiculous, frankly. As an audience, we need mystery. We need to use our imaginations, at least a little. We need a story that makes us think, that shows us just enough of a wider world to make us want to explore more. Always leave ’em wanting more, as they say. With Furiosa’s character, that’s exactly what the film-makers have done, and it was a great move and a breath of fresh air.

04.3 Nux

Nux, as played by Nicholas Hoult, knocked this performance out of the water. He is one of those rare actors who has had the chance to play a huge range of completely different characters, and has flourished with the challenge the opportunity entails. He is immensely talented, and almost unrecognisable, which is one of the signs of a great actor.

 

3): The Bad Guy

06 Immortan Joe

 

06.2 Immortan Joe 02

Hahaha, holy shit. I love this guy. He looks like a Predator and Beetlejuice had a baby. He is absolutely insane and terrifying and they nailed this character. Immortan Joe is the leader of a huge cult of warriors known as “War Boys”, and is horrible in every way. He is portrayed by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who some people may recognise as the actor who played Toecutter in the original Mad Max. He is absolutely brilliant in this role, and is a highlight of the movie.

 

4): The Insanity

07 Fury Road

This is just the first chunk of Immortan Joe’s army, and there are at least two other gangs/armies involved in the action of the film (it’s hard to keep track – everyone is shooting at everyone else, basically). This all adds up and lends itself to several of the greatest action sequences you’re ever likely to see. As mentioned before, all the stunts are real in this film and things like this:

07.2 Jump

… And this:

07.3 Swinging

… Are no exception. This movie contains stunts that I would never have even dreamed of, and is over the top in every way. This movie is insane in every sense of the word, and it’s beautiful.

The film also actually explores insanity in several forms, and does it incredibly well.

We have Immortan Joe and Mad Max (the clue is in the name), who are just straight up crazy.

There’s Nux and Cheedo, who both show similar symptoms of obsession and sort of a hero-worship of Immortan Joe. The reason I call the War Boys a cult is because they literally see Immortan Joe as a god, an all-powerful being who grants them life through his sparingly distributed fresh water. Immortan Joe obviously enables this belief and uses it to manipulate the War Boys into doing his bidding.

We have the fanaticism of the War Boys themselves, obviously, which is very well done.

But we also see people coming out the other side, such as the previously mentioned Cheedo and Nux overcoming their obsession with Joe.

 

5): … Seriously, Guys, The Insanity

I’m gonna lead this section of the article with one of my favourite screenshots in the world:

08 Guitar

That is exactly what it looks like. There are enough speakers on the front of that truck to make Metallica shake their heads in amazement. And there is someone attached to a harness on the front of the truck, playing an electric guitar. This truck is going quite fast, by the way. Now, when I mentioned practical effects before, this scene may have you thinking I didn’t mean every little bit of the movie was done for real. I understand that you’d think that, looking at this screenshot. But you’d be wrong. That is a real person, attached to a real truck, playing a real guitar, actually going at incredible speed.

And if you didn’t think that was insane enough (what are you, crazy?), the guitar doubles as a flame-thrower:

08.2 Guitar Flames

Oh, and yes, they built the guitar to actually work as a fucking flame thrower. In real life. THAT GUITAR IS ACTUALLY A FLAME-THROWER. That is without question the coolest factual sentence I’ve ever written in my life.

This, above all, is the biggest reason I love this movie. It is unapologetically insane. It is over the top, and still manages to pull it off.

Mad Max: Fury Road is more than just insane though. It’s an ode to pure, unadulterated fun. It is proper entertainment; Action-packed, funny, unique, well made and absolutely breathtaking.

So, since this is a review, I guess I have to give it a rating.

5/5, 10/10, 100/100, A+ … etc.

Seriously, go and see it right now. I was not joking about that.

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