Mad Max: Fury Road Review

Mad Max: Fury Road

It’s been a long time since I watched the original Mad Max, I can’t really remember if I saw the whole thing – and the two sequels are even harder to recall.

So it’s fair to say this road warrior franchise didn’t make a huge impact on me, Which is odd as I’m generally a fan of gritty, post-apocalyptic fare.

My ignorance of the original films either makes me something of a cinematic philistine, or the perfect audience for George Miller’s rebooted-sequel Mad Max: Fury Road.

The latter seems more likely, with Miller’s new incarnation of Max intent on attracting a new legion of fans.

The film begins with what turns out to be a rare moment of stillness, accompanied by the sparsest of explanatory audio-montages and a brief voice over from ‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky.

Max is an ex-cop living in a futuristic, lawless land who’s haunted by the memory of his loved ones, and hunted by, well, pretty much everyone else.

With the back-story neatly covered, a car chase suddenly breaks out and the pace from thereon in is pretty relentless.

The plot revolves around general despot and villain Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne who also played the original bad guy in the original 1979 Mad Max film.

Joe rules over a large population of hungry and needy workers, whom he occasionally rewards by sharing a few pitiful drops of his copious water supply, and is supported by an army of war lords, war boys and war pups.

In short, they’re quite an aggressive bunch who like war.

Immortan Joe finds himself betrayed by some of his own (including Charlize Theron), who promptly go on the lam and cross paths with both Mad Max and a war boy by the name of Nux, gamely played by Nicholas Hoult.

The merry band then find themselves up against some of the most hostile and imaginatively adorned characters ever committed to screen. Cue car, truck and motorbike chases galore, accompanied by lashings of violence and explosions.

Mad Max: Fury Road has a glorious old-school feel to it, and I mean that in a good way.

Both the editing and choreography are spot-on, and as a result you can actually see and behold what is happening onscreen. Michael Bay, take note.

There also appears to be a welcome emphasis on actual physical stuntwork and mercifully little reliance on CGI.

The visual designs are striking too. In addition to the stark and scorched landscapes, with Namibia providing the dystopian wasteland instead of Australia, the character make-up is wildly inventive.

There’s a good chance Immortan Joe and his grisly teeth-mask will be seared into your brain long after watching, and become this halloween’s must have look.

Hardy and Theron also have particularly strong screen presence, mainly generated through facial expressions and body language.

The characters as a whole may not be overburdened by dialogue but thankfully this results in less expositional monologues and a deeper immersion into Miller’s conception of the future.

And, although this is a future which may thrive on savage machismo, the dependence on females is never underestimated.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a well-crafted actioner that will stand out from other big movies this summer, and if Miller’s intention was to win new fans to the franchise then he’s already won that war.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

May 2015