Mad Max Fury Road (2015)

In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just
might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words,
and Furiosa, a woman who is looking to make it back to her
childhood homeland.

Directed by George Miller
Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

It’s an almost certainty that without George Miller, Mel Gibson would be a relative nobody. And without doubt the success of the first generation of Mad Max movies did not rely upon the talents of a man that went on to make a film with a stuffed beaver. Like this, the man responsible was not the former police officer on a quest for revenge, but the man pointing the camera and unleashing his own brand of unique and frightening chaos upon an unsuspecting cinema audience. Times may have changed, but the premise is much the same; when the chips are down, there is really only one person to rely on. The worst of humanity, after all, only requires a little nudge to reveal itself and Miller was always adept and gleeful at showing us its weaknesses, warts and all.

As with the good old days, where a pirated VHS copy was probably your first experience of any of George Miller’s work, this is highly stylized mayhem and carnage. It’s not for the weak of heart, brutally inventive and sometimes, just sometimes, goes a little too far past acceptable levels of credibility, even for a visionary like Miller (anybody else think the flame-throwing electric guitar was just a tad too much?). It (literally) takes no prisoners when handing out meaty chunks of ultra violence that leave even the original wincing just a little. A relentless sandstorm of petrol-headed lunacy, this is far from subtle and thespian-lovers everywhere need not be too concerned as there is little here to really test them.

So, whilst they may not handing out gongs for the acting performances, Fury Road should certainly be recognised for its creativity and artistic merit. These road warrior movies are signature turns by Miller and there really is no one quite like him for this kind of unstoppable visual and aural cacophony that assaults the senses from beginning to end, giving almost no time at all for pause. If memory serves, this episode probably has a script that is a few pages thicker than previously enjoyed as this does threaten to have some kind of plot to follow (and even the odd moment of contemplation, believe it or not), but like what’s been before, this is more for the purposes of driving the action as opposed to the other way around. Whilst this may prove aggravating for some, the core audience that would be expected to show up will be well catered for, with guttural engines, ingrained filth and visceral death and destruction its real reason for being.

Sometimes the lack of dynamism in the camerawork is apparent and the old independent flow of Miller’s work appears to be absent, leaving the viewer with the nagging feeling that this just isn’t as dangerous and unpredictable as his original first couple of films. Chaos it may certainly be, but this comes across as carefully polished and photoshopped chaos. No bad thing, certainly, but the purists may miss that sense of vigilante film-making employed with such relish all those years ago.

Nonetheless, this is Mad Max 2.0 and this is still a real fuel injected riot that will grab you by the scrotum and squeeze you hard for a couple of hours. The real difference here is that you kind of get the feeling that you will probably come out of this with your balls intact. You couldn’t say the same about this when Mel Gibson was making a name for himself, but hey, that’s progress, right?

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