Spoil-Free Reviews: Mad Max: Fury Road
Well it only seems right that I make my triumphant return with the equally triumphant return of an equally iconic pop culture icon. When I heard George Miller was bringing back the Mad Max series with a modern reboot it garnered much the same response the announcements of Jurassic World and Star Wars Force Awakens did for me: that’s nice you planning on getting it right this time? Mad Max is a series that is as well known for its missteps as it is for its triumphs and anytime you reboot something like that you’re asking a lot of your fan base to just give you their money because it’s a familiar name (I’m looking Robocop). But George Miller is a different director than he was in 1979; since then he has given us such off genre films as Babe, The Witches of Eastwick, and Happy Feet 1&2. But here we are with George Miller in 2015 as he makes his return to the psychotic action movie genre accompanied by Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
So if you haven’t actually seen Mad Max yet you have one of two opinions on the film and that has to do almost entirely on who your friends are. Either you have friends who saw it and told you they loved it and you’re dying to go experience two hours of blissful genius. Or—and it is a much more depressing reality—you have shitty friends and they went to go see Tomorrowland, San Andreas, or god forbid Aloha and in that case you don’t want to go see Mad Max because your shitty friends either lied and told you to go see those movies or they told you how terrible they are and you have lost all faith in the silver screen entirely which I would not blame you one bit.
Mad Max opens with a headfirst plunge into the world of the film our protagonist is captured and taken to the dystopian mecca, the Citadel. There we find out that humans are harvested for healthy blood and that water is the source of the film’s villain/crazy leader/fake messiah/deformed, jacked beetlejuice Immortan Joe’s in this post-apocalyptic world. This is just the first instance of world building that Miller gives us in the film. There are in fact few examples of better world building in a fantasy/sci-fi work outside of Ender’s Game or A Song of Ice and Fire. Miller gives us glimpses of the world allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions about what we are being shown rather than shoving it down our throats. Instead of giving us the corrupt leader speech from a source that in this film would have been hard to believably introduce Miller takes us on a tour of Joe’s living quarters/prison for models and Lenny Kravitz’s daughter after showing his people that literally worship him begging for water caked in dirt and clinging to life. The baron wasteland is surprisingly rich with backstory far more than Miller gave us in any of the three previous films.
The downfall of every almost-great action movie has always been its characters—especially its female characters. Whether they are the glorified TnA made popular by basically anything starring Megan Fox or be it the damsel in distress made popular by the 1300s it’s always a surprise when someone manages to put one impressive female character on screen not in a “chick flick”, George Miller just brought us an action movie starring basically entirely women and it wasn’t even noticeable. Who would’ve guessed it women treated like people on screen—it shouldn’t be nearly as impressive as it was for Miller to have a dozen effortlessly well-written female characters but it is.
But let’s be honest no one gives a shit about rich characters and equally well-constructed worlds. No one cares that Mad Max had some of the best cinematography I’ve seen from an action movie in a long time. No one really cares that Miller managed to cram character development, storytelling, and emotional power into what at the end of the day is a two hour fight scene. None of that really matters. All the people care about is that Mad Max has bar-none, the best fight scene choreography of any movie of this genre ever. I would say Michael Bay should take notes but I think somehow this movie had less explosions than he would have liked.
Should’ve saved this for Oscar season. But when was the last time Village Roadshow had some real faith in what it had? I’m waiting to distance myself from this film before I make grand statements. I am the kind of person that is more prone to call the thing I just saw/heard/read/ate/etc. better than it may be just out of sheer excitement. But there is a real part of me that thinks this Mad Max, 2015 starring Tom Hardy Mad Max is one of the best action movies of all time. But I’ll wait until its been at least a month before I make that decision.
Acting (Main Cast): 9/10
Acting (Supporting Cast): 6/10
Overall Rating: 8.9/10 (classic)
Pop Culture Che Suggests: 5/5