Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)    1 Stars

“Only the mad survive”


Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Director: George Miller

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Synopsis: A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in post apocalyptic Australia in search for her homeland with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.

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Other than the vehicles, there’s little of the old world left in George Miller’s colourful reboot of his Mad Max franchise. Post-Apocalyptic Australia seems to be nothing more than a vast, simmering desert of burnished gold, leading one to wonder just where those still living find their food (we know Max eats raw lizard). The English language is falling apart, with warriors poisoned by radiation talking of mcfeasting at the gates of Valhalla, and the only skill the human race seems to have retained is in motor mechanics.

A tyrant named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played The ToeCutter in the first Mad Max movie) holds the key to the reservoir of water that lies beneath the desert, and therefore controls the lives of those humans unlucky enough to be trapped within his domain. He warns them against becoming dependent on water, as if they have a choice. The primitive society is an interesting one, worthy of further investigation, but Miller is too preoccupied with his vision of a legendary chase to care. He takes the action into the desert as soon as he can, with Joe and his bizarre cohorts in pursuit of a renegade Imperator named Furiosa (Charlize Theron – Young Adult, Snow White and the Huntsman) who has absconded with five of Joe’s pregnant wives. Max (Tom Hardy – Child 44, London Road) gets involved, first as a prisoner strapped to the front of one of Joe’s vehicles (driven by a warrior who will soon swap sides) like a battered Spirit of Ecstasy, and then sharing driving duties with Furiosa after slipping free from his shackles. The plot more or less ends there, in a desert that really shouldn’t offer the traction necessary for the high-speed chase that follows.

Strangely, Max is little more than a supporting character in his own movie, an accomplished sidekick playing second fiddle to Furiosa, and you have to wonder whether Warners’ are angling for a spin-off. He doesn’t say much, either – but then he never did – and wears a muzzle (like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) for much of the film. In the old films, though, what Max did have to say was usually worth listening to, whereas in Fury Road he simply utters blockbuster inanities. Some have speculated that he is actually the feral kid, grown in Max’s image, and there’s some merit to that theory. Either way, he’s a little too bovine for true hero material. Furiosa, despite missing half an arm, is much more aggressive and also a character of higher principles than Max.

The movie thunders along like that rig Max and Furiosa drive. The stuntwork is truly impressive – there’s a lot of leaping from and onto speeding vehicles – and Miller clearly takes pride in keeping CGI to a minimum. But it becomes repetitive after a while, and overhead shots of the flotilla of smaller vehicles in pursuit of the tanker remind us of the chaotic chase scenes in the second Mad Max movie, and of how much more exciting that movie was. It’s a shame there aren’t more touches like the heavy metal guitarist grinding out a rock anthem to spur Joe’s phalanx on to ever greater speeds – in the absence of a meaningful storyline, such quirky details can go a long way towards elevating a movie above its otherwise mediocre roots.

(Reviewed 28th November 2015)

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