If Jesus (or a deity of your choosing) was to ride a dinosaur while slaying a dragon it would be far less entertaining than Mad Max: Fury Road. This was a nonstop thrill ride, and yes pun intended. When we discuss this movie it’s important to remember the cars, the desert, and the effects are just as important as the actors. Further, and everyone better brace themselves, there is a message in this movie. Yes indeed for a flick that uses surprisingly little dialog it says quite a bit.
Let’s begin with a history lesson. The actor Hugh Keays-Byrne who brings life the desert king Immortan Joe in this film also played Toecutter, the villain from the original 1979 Mad Max. This character actor supercharges an already amped script. To provide even greater resonance with true fans the story is being carried forward by the same writer-director who birthed the original three, George Miller. George worked as an Emergency Room doctor in the late 70s to raise the funds to make his now mainstream yet very cult hit. That emergency medical experience must have influenced in no small way the gore and visceral nature of the action. Finally, Mel Gibson, the original series protagonist provided his blessing to his successor Tom Hardy and his post premier stamp of approval. Mel for all his numerous faults is a brilliant actor who mainlined mania for Mad Max allowing generations since to fall in love with the action genre.
Cars…Cars…Cars. Action multipurpose flame-throwing heavy metal cars. This film is driven (yes pun #2) by how successfully they pull off the chase scenes. From the jump we are riding shotgun alongside death machines hunting Max Rockatansky. Moreover, according to press releases and B-roll of the feature, an unheard of 80% of film is all practical effects. This means when the “war boys” were swinging on giant lances grabbing victims off of other vehicles and smashing them with pike bombs (all words you will understand upon seeing the film) it is actually happening. Without rambling for pages on this topic I will say simply “if you ask yourself if this is real the answer is yes” it’s all actually happening.
The element that makes the real effects possible is the desert. A dry barren wasteland that does’t the stage it is the stage for this flick. Apocalyptic is one of those themes that can’t be easy to create given that no one can tell us what the last one looked like. George Miller looked out upon the majesty of the brown sand, stained it with blood-red highlights and scattered machine and body parts across it forming the best vision of what a dystopian future would hold. But who brought us to this hopeless end.
Yes the message portion of our show is upon us. Who indeed could destroy a world seemingly abundant in natural and renewable resources while systematically breaking down the last vestiges of compassion? MEN. Could it be that simple? Why, yes it can. I have reserved discussion of Charlize Theron till this portion to better grasp how kick ass the women were in this film. Essentially this is a film called Mad Max and provides equal screen time to his female counterpart Imperator Furiosa. She moves the plot of the film while Max is along for the ride. On route to the land of many mothers, named for their life-giving abilities and the fertility of the land, they encounter some ripened beauties. These old crows teach the audience a thing or two about fighting skills increasing with age. You could say Fury Road is badass chick flick. It demonstrates how capable women are to lead movies such as this. We have seen women in action movies before Alien, Tomb Raider, and Kill Bill. However we’ve never seen it on this scale before.
Final thoughts: Tom Hardy has signed on to do three more Mad Max films.
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