How do you describe the original Mad Max film to someone who is not familiar with it? Science fiction? B movie? Action film? Post-apocalyptic? A mélange of all that? It is hard to put your finger on it and maybe that is why is became a cult hit with so many. Director George Miller (Mad Max, Happy Feet) continues along this path of making a film that is a category all unto its own. The one thing I can firmly say about Mad Max: Fury Road is that it is a feminist film in the most subtle yet strong way.
With a film like this it is not really the story that is the main focus. It is the images. There is no attempt to “fool” the audience into thinking this is something that it is not. For God’s sake, there is even very little dialogue throughout its lengthy two hour runtime. Really all the jibber jabber that films usually rely on is not needed or missed during Mad Max: Fury Road. Image or more precisely the image is what counts here. The message is delivered through amazing but grimy cinematography and immense desert scenery.
In a desert landscape a group of survivors of different sorts are trying to scramble for the few remaining resources left. Water is especially sparse. The water is controlled by the tyrannical leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne – Mad Max), who has an iron grip on everything and everyone.
The freeing of the people and the resources might be up to two you would never have picked to become freedom fighters. During the chaos that resulted in a post apocalyptic environment for the survivors a man named Max (Tom Hardy – Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) he tries to carry on despite having lost his wife and child. Furiosa (Charlize Theron – Dark Places, Monster), formerly a very loyal driver for Immortan Joe, decides that her freedom along with that of a group of women imprisoned by the leader as his five wives is worth risking everything for.
One day when she is supposed to be leading a caravan through the desert on a trading exposition, Furiosa deviates from her orders and makes a break for a region she remembers as a child. With Max reluctantly joining Furiosa, Toast the Knowing (Zoe Kravitz – Divergent, X-Men: First Class), The Splendid Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – Transformers: Dark of the Moon), Capable (Riley Keough – The Runaways, Magic Mike), The Dag (Abbey Lee – first film), and Cheedo the Fragile (Courtney Eaton – first film), the ragtag group drive across the desert with various groups led first by Nux (Nicholas Hoult – About a Boy, X-Men: Days of Future Past) and then Immortan Joe himself pursuing them.
The fourth installment of this popular Australian cult film series is just as underground, rough around the edges and left of centre as the previous three. The same except for the fact that it is going to make hundreds of millions of dollars. Not because it taps into the very popular post apocalyptic theme, but because it lives up to the expectations of the rabid fans of the series. By not forgetting where it came from it has a clear idea of where to go with the story.
For almost the entirety of the time it is on the screen this is balls to the wall action and a mad paced vehicle chase through the desert. There is a level of frenzy and crazy not often seen in movies in Mad Max: Fury Road. Definitely not your typical Hollywood cookie cutter movie. The stunt work and action is all amazingly technical and well choreographed in a way that makes it stand out from the action film crowd. Explosions, deaths, car crashes, and fights happen at a rapid pace and on occasion take your breath away.
Almost everything is note perfect. Even the fact that the story is thin doesn’t hamper things. Yes, it is simplistic, but there is enough that you can dig your teeth into it and not so much that it gets in the way of the action. Character and action driven rather than being an overly wordy piece. The best part is that the lead character, who is plenty kick ass, is a woman. That happens so rarely and doubly so in films of this type. Furiosa bucks the trend of the helpless woman who needs a man to save her and on a couple of occasions she saves Max. A typical testosterone film in which estrogen comes in to save the day. Fantastic!