This review come courtesy of Galleon newspaper film critic Zach Lockwood, who after coming back from the opening day screening offered to write a review for the website. Thanks Zach!
If there was one thing that was consistent in the original Mad Max trilogy, it would be the madness. The post-apocalyptic madness of Australian policeman Max, played by Mel Gibson, setting out to track down a vicious biker gang in the first part of the trilogy Mad Max. Then the sequel The Road Warrior (and very much the best of the three) is basically a futuristic Seven Samurai. Finishing with Beyond Thunderdome whose narrative is so convoluted its barley possible to give a 50-word synopsis. One key theme follows all of these movies, madness. The outlandish design of the cars, costumes and landscape paints a horrifyingly punk-western future of the human race. Mad Max: Fury Road has that same element of madness, that takes the normal action movie, and blows it completely out of the water, and for the first time, George Miller (director, writer and producer) has got it right.
Max, played by Tom Hardy, is a survivor, living through the apocalypse that’s seen the world vying for commodities such as oil, water and bullets. Captured by the warrior slaves of Immortan Joe, self-elected God of the Citadel, Max finds himself tied to the front of Nux’s (Nicholas Holt) Death Race style desert car, leading the tirade of post-apocalyptic gothic vehicles in pursuit of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who’s escaped from the clutches of Immortan Joe with his slave wives (Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee).
If I’m entirely honest it is one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen. As it’s a continuation of the original Mad Max trilogy, and not a prequel/reboot, it would seem odd to cast Tom Hardy who looks nothing like Mel Gibson. He also seems to be channelling an even more silent and grizzly Harrison Ford from Blade Runner. The film is also near silent, with very little dialogue, which may seem a wise decision post-casting four catwalk models as leads. The film has the look of Rodríguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn, powerful reds and oranges highlighted by long wide shots of the deserts and the multitude of vehicles smashing and crashing into each other. The cinematography is breathtaking, and I would advise anyone to see this film in IMAX if they have the slightest opportunity. Saying that the 3D as usual is interesting in the first twenty minutes with multiple in your face action, but after that it just serves no purpose. There are many flashback scenes that Max has, hinting at the original trilogy with the murders of his wife and child, but other than that it doesn’t really delve into the original that much.
This film is not only one of the best of the years so far, I would find it very hard to think of any film other than the forthcoming James Bond film SPECTRE and the Star Wars sequel that could challenge Mad Max: Fury Road for best film of the year. Tom Hardy in his dialogue-free acting is electrifying. George Miller has assembled and directed a fantastic female cast, giving new voices to the action genre. Few people were expecting powerful feminism from the Mad Max franchise, yet here it is, and it’s refreshing to see. But most of the fun is in watching the magnificently eccentric and crazy world that Miller has created over four films. The cars that are just a mish-mash of what can be found at the nearest scrap yard with an engine attached. The violence is revolutionary for the action genre, evoking the films title, ‘mad’ in every punch, explosion and gunshot. It’s very surprising to see a clear blockbuster explosion film deliver so well without having to leave your brain at the door. The dialogue is punchy and the visual effects are spectacular. This isn’t just a great summer blockbuster; it’s a great film.
Score: 9/10 Thirty years on, George Miller still has it in him to create a great action film