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Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road Is An Unrelenting, and Insanely Fun Thrill Ride

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“You know, hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane.”    

Max Rockatansky

Max was once a family man and a highway patrol officer, now he is little more than a solitary drifter who roams the desolate wasteland of our future world. As he makes his way across the barren landscape, Max is chased down and abducted by some “War Boys”. They take him to the Citadel, ruled over by the warlord, Immortan Joe. They type Max and and designate him a universal donor of blood, used to help replenish the health of the ailing “War Boys”. He tries to make his escape from the Citadel, but is subdued and again imprisoned.

Meanwhile, Imperator Furiosa sets out in her “war rig”, along with her support convoy, to obtain and bring back gasoline. When she diverts from the planned course, it becomes apparent that she is breaking off from her original mission. When Immortan Joe finds that the “five wives” he has collected to use as breeding stock have disappeared, he realizes the purpose behind Furiosa’s deviation. He assembles the “War Boys” as well as allies from Gas Town and the Bullet Farm, and head out in pursuit if Furiosa and the five wives. A War Boy named Nux is so hellbent on joining in the chase, despite his sickly condition, they strap Max right to a rig on the front of Nux’s car to serve as his healing “blood bag”. As Immortan Joe and his army close in on Furiosa, she heads into an oncoming sand storm in hopes of slipping away from Joe’s pursuing horde. During a kamikaze style move to try to stop Furiosa, Nux ends up wrecking his vehicle and setting Max free in the process.

Max makes a failed attempt to hightail it away with Furiosa’s rig, but ultimately (and begrudgingly) joins forces with her and “the five wives” to help make their escape to Furiosa’s childhood home – “The Green Place”. With the frenzied and chaotic chase back on, Max and Furiosa will make every effort to deliver “the five wives” to safety and away from the clutches of Immortan Joe. Will they find salvation in “The Green Place” or will it present itself in the least likely place they would have thought?

To say that Tom Hardy nailed his portrayal of “Mad” Max Rockatansky, would be a gross understatement. He represents a man whose madness has grown ever deeper as the result of being haunted by the ghosts of his past. It’s a departure from Mel Gibson’s depiction of Max, but it’s still a welcome change. And while Hardy doesn’t have many lines of dialogue, it’s his quiet intensity that speaks volumes. He shows that Max is a man whose actions speak much louder than words, because he really is crazy enough to do anything.

Charlize Theron in the role of Imperator Furiosa, provided much more than a supporting character. In fact, one could say that she was one of two lead characters in this film. She gave a gritty yet emotionally charged performance that was able to match Tom Hardy’s intensity, because frankly that’s what the story needed. She provided audiences with an incredibly strong heroine to root for in an apocalyptic world dominated primarily by men. There was an initial adversarial vibe between Furiosa and Max, that gave way to mutual need and ultimately respect.

Nicholas Hoult is really fun to watch as Nux, one of Immortan Joe’s sickly and pale “War Boys”. He gives a spectacularly spastic, hyper and chaotic performance, showing absolute unflinching loyalty in his pursuit of Furiosa, to get into the good graces (if they even exist) of his overseer. Whats better is his later heroic turn as he decides to help Max and Furiosa in their daunting endeavor, thus making him an even more likeable misfit.

Hugh Keays-Byrne returns to the Mad Max series to portray yet another villainous character. He was one of the O.G. Mad Max villains when he portrayed “Toecutter”, the leader of “The Acolytes” motorcycle gang from the original Mad Max film in 1979. This time around he takes on the role of Immortan Joe, the masked warlord who runs the “War Boys” and controls the Citadel. Like Max, this character is similarly limited in dialogue, but it’s his frightful and intimidating visage coupled with his actions are what truly make the character come alive.

When it comes down to the story line, it really isn’t intended to provide any far-reaching or profound social commentary. The whole jist is that our heroes are making a mad dash to a destination that represents salvation, only to realize that said salvation may be truly found if they return to the place from whence they came.

There is of course the whole element of one man and his tyrannical rule over the citizens of the Citadel. But being that the post-apocalyptic landscape has become a dog-eat-dog world, it should be no surprise that such a premise exists as it has throughout the Mad Max series. Remember, he or she who has the biggest stick or leads the largest group of fanatical followers will always be in charge, and will also be the one who has a stranglehold on all precious resources. There could be an argument made that the film contains a feminist message, but it may only be incidental due to the presence of a strong female characters like Furiosa and “the wives”.

It’s the wild and chaotic journey that truly makes this a fun movie to watch. It moves at a break neck pace through the first 30 or so minutes of the movie, giving the audience little chance for a breather and finishes out just as strong as it began. And even when the action slows long enough for the audience to breathe the wasteland fire and dust out of their lungs, the tension is still unrelenting.

Miller also did not make this a dialogue intensive film…there just frankly was no need. The limited amount of dialogue there was suited the storyline very well as this was a movie that relied on the characters actions to advance the narrative.  Because at this particular point in Miller’s post apocalyptic wasteland, anyone who takes the time to mince words, is not likely going to live to see another day.

George Miller and cinematographer John Seale did a beautiful job of making the barren wastes of the post apocalyptic future look amazing. Action sequences looked exquisite with the use of a wide scope to capture every bit of the action, while also capturing the wide open desolation of the landscape. It definitely leaves movie goers with the sense that all Max and Furiosa can do is run, because in the wastes…there is nowhere to hide.

Of course the film does owe a lot of its visual appeal to the editing department. Miller’s wife and editor, Margaret Sixel, gracefully handled the formidable task of sorting through nearly 500 hours of footage to tightly assemble the final cut of the film, with a running time of 120 minutes. Her discerning eye caught the perfect pieces for use in constructing this cinematic puzzle, and the way she pieced it together gave it great movement, flow, and pacing. One can only imagine what they may have in store for audiences, if a special edition extended cut Blu-ray is in the works.

With Mad Max: Fury Road, Miller really seemed to be saying to the audience “I know it’s been a while, so lets just have some f#@%ing fun”, and that is exactly what this movie is. It is a raucous, chaotic, loud, and just insanely fun movie experience. It may have taken 30 years to get here, but it was definitely worth the wait. Now all that fans of Fury Road need to hope for, is that Miller quickly makes good on his Twitter promise about the next installment of the series, which is tentatively titled Mad Max:Wasteland.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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