Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Review

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What is it?

 In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

What’d I think?

After being stuck in development hell for quite a number of years, Mad Max: Fury Road comes roaring onto the big screen, this time without Mel Gibson as the titular hero but with Tom Hardy.

Series’ director George Miller returns though and tells modern action directors to sit down and shut up and watch how it’s done, delivering a masterful action film with so much to it, both in terms of production and story, that it’s a little overwhelming to think about, let alone write about it.

When I was a wee lad, I grew up on action blockbusters like Terminator 2 and Aliens – those movies are such full throttle action events that they grab you and refuse to let go, in turn creating an exhilarating movie event.

Mad Max: Fury Road took me back to that time, because here was a film that not only showcases great imagination – between the costumes and visuals – but as an action film, its stunt work and sequences are exceptional.

The film is so exciting that I actually sat up in my seat, jaw open in wonder at how this film just hits the ground running and keeps throwing things at you. That’s not to say that it’s like a Michael Bay feature, where the carnage exhausts you. This feels different. It builds tension, it builds that excitement – and then it tears off, like the almighty war rig featured here.

And the thing is: it’s so insane and over-the-top but it all works. There’s a gimp standing on a wagon and shredding on a guitar as his gang hunts down Furiosa and Max and yet all of this just added to my enjoyment.

So: my hats off to the production work here. The stunt work, the clever use of CGI, the costumes and last but not least: the writing – it’s all very, very satisfying.

In terms of writing, the film is quite minimal. It doesn’t necessarily take a back seat to the visuals but it provides what it needs to to get you involved – and it’s rather effective.

Charlize Theron steal the show as the hard as nails Furiosa – and its her story that this film is telling, surprisingly enough. Max gets his fair share of screen time and focus but its her journey that takes the lead and drives the film. Max just sort of reacts to what she’s doing, which is an observation not a complaint – it’s great to see a strong female lead the show.

In fact, there’s a strong feminist angle working here that is quite a delight.

As an example: When Megan Gale shows up in the nude, it seems pretty gratuitous until moments later, she is shown to be just as tough as Furiosa and capable of fighting for herself. So it’s wonderful how the film treats the ladies here, my hats off again to that.

Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the finest films of the year and definitely one of the most masterful action films in years. Everything on display – from the writing, the execution of the action, how every moment is carefully handled – is amazing and definitely deserves praise come Oscar time. If you’re a fan of action or of the series itself, do yourself a favour by catching this.

 J’s Verdict: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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