Review – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (George Miller, 2015, Australia / USA)

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD || 2015, Australia / USA || Action || Directed by – George Miller / Produced by – Doug Mitchell, George Miller, PJ Voeten / Written by – George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris / Music by – Junke XL / Cinematography – John Seale / Edited by – Margaret Sixel / Starring – Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Hungtington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton / Running time: 120 mins.

madmaxfuryroadposterMad Max: Fury Road is a landmark action movie because it rests upon the very simple cinematic structure of the chase, which has existed since the medium’s very early days, and is arguably the basis for narrative cinema in general. Having settled on this solid structure, director George Miller and his team expand upon its every facet in exciting and often ground-breaking ways. This is true of all its features: the emotional, psychological, artistic, technical and so on.

The Mad Max franchise got its cinematic kickstart in the late seventies and marked the directorial debut of Miller (and made the career of Mel Gibson). Miller would go on to direct another two sequels, the last of which was released in 1985. The franchise has a cult following and, even before Fury Road, was regarded as a landmark work of the dystopian post-apocalyptic genre. Yet, Fury Road was stuck in developmental hell since, at least, 1997, perhaps because there was no interest for it. The lengthy pre-production period was probably a good thing: by the time the film had hit the screen it was absolutely complete. Gibson was replaced in the titular role by Tom Hardy.

The storyline is apparently simple: Max Rockatansky flees from cult leader Immortal Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his army in an armoured tank. Along the way, in the midst of the resulting road battle with the most formidably frightening trucks and vehicles ever seen, he meets a group of women led by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who is in search for their homeland – a promised land of sorts.

In fact, Furiosa is the true, charismatic leader of the film. Significantly, throughout the film, Furiosa is not looked upon as the “object of desire,” unlike the vast majority of similar films. Mad Max himself looks up to her. The feminist vibes of the movie have been praised, but aside from these, it is important to point out the richness of themes that, despite being examined within a genre film, are absolutely convincing. There is the theme of psychological manipulation, represented by the stronghold of the ruling religious group, who blackmail the people by controlling the water supplies. There is, among other things, the references to environmentalism and the degradation of human morality.

Nevertheless, despite all these various serious connotations, Mad Max: Fury Road is an energetic and fun film to watch. Firstly, it is underlined by a sense of humour, which is the result of its taste for the bizarre. The adrenolytic road chase, which as noted earlier marks the structure of the film as a whole, is consistently adrenalitic. The fantastic work of montage, attentive to the many extravagant things happening within constantly moving space, should also be noted: it is as if the film were a steampunk version of Buster Keaton’s The General overlooked by Sergei Eisenstein. The comparison rings all the more true when one thinks of the avant-garde use of sound made in the film, which itself is used as an element of montage – there is, in fact, very little important given to dialogue and to theatricality, besides the distinctive look of the make-up and costumes, as a whole; there is no mistaking it, Mad Max: Fury Road is a work that could only have been cinematic. – 5/5

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