18 May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road review

Despite the lengthy gap between Mad Max: Fury Road and the previous instalment in the series, not much has changed for our titular character. His world is fire and blood, and as always he finds himself begrudgingly helping those that need his help - this time, a woman named Imperator Furiosa who is leading a small group of women previously held as 'breeders' as they flee from the clutches of their oppressor, Immortan Joe, the leader of a cult-like tribe of bandits known as the War Boys.

The set-up is simple but the pay off is magnificent. Essentially, Mad Max: Fury Road is a two hour long version of the final chase sequence from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, but with everything turned up to 11. The wasteland is bigger and badder and madder than it has ever been, and there is frequently more imagination in one shot of Mad Max: Fury Road than there is in some entire films. Even better, the film doesn't blow all of it's creativity in the opening chase sequence - new ideas are being introduced throughout, constantly upping the ante as the chase rages on.

Although this may be the first Mad Max film without Mel Gibson, Mad Max: Fury Road certainly doesn't suffer for it. Tom Hardy is a great fit for the role, playing Max more unhinged than he has ever been (his eyes in particular selling the notion that Max lost it a long time ago) while still managing to humanise the character with the natural charisma that Hardy has in droves. He's helped into the role by being able to take something of a back seat for large parts of the run time thanks to the films focus on Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa, a true equal to Max who could have probably handled things just fine without him if need be and could easily lead her own film - which is a good job, because the decidedly feminist themes running throughout Mad Max: Fury Road would have been a bit hollow without a kick ass female character backing them up.

The women that Furiosa are rescuing are all named characters with their own personalities and are all allowed time to fully develop as characters, and the writings they leave on the wall of their prison (particularly "Who killed the world?") leave no room for misinterpretation for who Mad Max: Fury Road holds accountable for the state of society in this universe. Importantly, these women are not at all sexualized during the course of the film - they are shot with grace and dignity, the white cloth that covers them making them appear angelic and almost virginal, empowered by escape and determined to survive in a wasteland that hates them. It is this added depth that really elevates Mad Max: Fury Road from great action film to an instant classic, a film that will no doubt be being talked about for a long time yet.

It's hard not to simply gush over how good Mad Max: Fury Road actually is. There isn't a shot in this film that wouldn't make a great desktop background, the deeply saturated colours, vivid imagination and great camera work combining to make Mad Max: Fury Road one of the better looking action films I've ever seen, and not just during the more obvious moments of serene beauty that are found in the wasteland.The framing and editing of the films more frantic moments is superb, allowing the audience to easily keep track of the scenes geography, which is one of the most important and often overlooked aspects of great action.

There is so much more I want to talk about, from how great the villainous Immortan Joe is to how well Nicolas Hoult turns his character, a War Boy named Nux, from a brain-washed psychopath to a character genuinely worth caring about. Hell, I could easily dedicate paragraphs to the films smallest details, such as the various rituals and traditions that the War Boy's follow, but half the fun of Mad Max: Fury Road is allowing the film to weave this rich tapestry of imagination, momentum and power in front of you, and I'd hate to take away even the smallest bit of that experience from anyone.

preference for practical effects over CGI, the gorgeous cinematography, the pitch perfect pacing and the incredibly impressive and imaginative action sequences (which make up the vast majority of the films running time), Mad Max: Fury Road reads as George Miller using $150 million to school the next generation of action directors in how to do it properly. This is a film with real imagination and personality, faster and more furious than anything we've seen in years and perfectly crafted from the ground up, a film so full of creativity that I'm still struggling to believe that what I saw on screen was financed by a studio. I urge you, with every ounce of my being - go and see Mad Max: Fury Road. You won't be disappointed.

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