Review – Mad Max: Fury Road

To say the unbearably long wait for George Miller’s fourth instalment in the post-apocalyptic franchise that made his name was worth it would be the mother of all understatements.

Mad Max: Fury Road - the message is simple: see it on the biggest screen possible

Mad Max: Fury Road – the message is simple: see it on the biggest screen possible

Initial grumblings over the two-hour running time and the somewhat unclear motivations of certain characters largely evaporated to dust (save for the sudden switch in allegiance by Nicholas Hoult’s Nux) following a hugely rewarding second viewing of Mad Max: Fury Road.

The genius of Miller’s decades-in-the-making follow-up to his initial trilogy is that it is both sublimely simple in its narrative thrust and also a complex, world-expanding work of real cinematic vision that has ideas coming out of its tailpipe.

Beyond Thunderdome: Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in Mad Max: Fury Road

Beyond Thunderdome: Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in Mad Max: Fury Road

It’s also the most brilliantly accomplished action film since The Raid 2: Berandal and a dizzingly demented piece of moviemaking that throws caution, and everything else for that matter, to the wind.

While Mel Gibson’s leather-jacketed lead dominated the action of Miller’s first three Mad Max pictures, Tom Hardy’s eponymous survivor often plays second fiddle to Fury Road‘s real star, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a trusted driver for the tyrannical Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

Bane of existemce: Max (Tom Hardy) in Mad Max: Fury Road

Bane of existence: Max (Tom Hardy) in Mad Max: Fury Road

Furiosa brings the full weight of Joe’s wrath down on her when he discovers she’s smuggled his breeding ‘wives’ out of the Citadel. Meanwhile, Max, who has been captured by Joe’s War Boys and used as a ‘blood bag’ for the sickly Nux, works to free himself and do what he can to survive.

It’s difficult to talk about Mad Max: Fury Road without first referencing the quite incredible action scenes. The fact that everyone is in some sort of vehicle, be it Furiosa’s bad ass War Rig, Joe’s outlandish monster truck or the multitude of pursuit vehicles that look like they’ve been chop-shopped to hell, naturally provides a pulse-quickening kineticism that is well served by Junkie XL’s Hans Zimmer-inspired score.

Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) goes in search of his wives in Mad Max: Fury Road

Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) goes in search of his wives in Mad Max: Fury Road

The first major action set piece that culminates in our leads driving headlong into an apocalyptic sand storm would normally be the dazzling denouement of most movies of this ilk, but that is merely the appetizer here for what is a banquet of senses-shattering craziness.

Miller continues to up the ante, throwing in chainsaws, spear bombs and a host of other weaponry until it gets to the point when Joe’s polecats (guys perched on the end of giant, bendy sticks that are somehow clamped to souped-up vehicles) are flying in from left and right trying to take out Max and co or steal the wives back from inside the War Rig. Words barely do it justice, which also might explain why dialogue is at a premium – when action is this compulsive who the hell needs talking?

The polecats get in on the action in Mad Max: Fury Road

The polecats get in on the action in Mad Max: Fury Road

Hardy once again lets his physicality do the talking in a role where more is said by his haunted, unsettling eyes and fists than his mouth ever could. His Max is searching for redemption as desperately as Furiosa, a character brought vividly to life by Theron in a performance that’s as feral as it is fascinating.

There’s so much more to be said about Mad Max: Fury Road, but it essentially comes down to a simple message – see it on the biggest screen possible.

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33 comments

  1. theipc · June 10, 2015

    Excellent piece! Excellent movie!! I know people get turned off by hype – which will suck FOR THEM. This is the best!

  2. Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop · June 10, 2015

    Good stuff mate. It really is a belter. I keep meaning to check it out at the cinema again before it disappears.

  3. le0pard13 · June 10, 2015

    One of my favorite films of the year.

  4. Consumed by Film · June 10, 2015

    Top work mate! Incredible film. A bloody brilliant action romp with characters you genuinely give a damn about.

    Adam.

  5. Cindy Bruchman · June 10, 2015

    Love the absence of CGI. The stunts were awesome. I loved the catapult, pole bending guys.

    • Three Rows Back · June 10, 2015

      They’re crazy aren’t they? Just one element in a brilliantly bonkers movie. Thanks Cindy.

  6. The Dippylomat, Esq. · June 10, 2015

    Good points, well made etc etc. I enjoyed it, I saw it on a big screen.
    I’d say the storyline could do with a little plumping up, letting the action do the talking is one thing, but a narrative which basically resembles ‘let’s go somewhere, no let’s go back’ is dumbing down just a little too far. But then let’s face it, one might look at this film and gauge; ‘it’s just Fast ‘n’ Furious for the steampunk generation’. Am I wrong? Possibly. Oh, no… there is a wet t-shirt scene which looks like a dated fizzy drink commercial! I am a bloke though, so yer know, fuck it.

    • Three Rows Back · June 10, 2015

      I think ‘Fast ‘n’ Furious for the steampunk generation’ is being a little harsh; I do think there’s enough going on here alongside the mind boggling action and wet t-shirt contest to make it more than most other action flicks. Mind you, I love Fast & Furious so I imagine I’ve talked myself into a corner.

  7. ruth · June 10, 2015

    Awesome review Mark! I LOVE this one and can’t wait to see this again in a bigger screen, preferably w/ Dolby Atmos! Yes it’s a rather taciturn movie but it works for the story I think and the actors are pretty expressive. One of the year’s best surely.

  8. Nostra · June 10, 2015

    Completely agree, went to see it for a second time yesterday which was just as good

  9. Mark Hobin · June 11, 2015

    Among the best of 2014 so far…

  10. Stu · June 11, 2015

    Good to read your take on it Mark, even if I did like it less than you! I still enjoyed with Fury Road, though, and the stunts were obviously very impressive.

  11. Pingback: Everybody’s Chattin’ + This Week’s Questions on Top 3 films of 2015 so far |
  12. Jordan Dodd · June 12, 2015

    Its been too long since this came out, a second viewing is in order!! Great review mate!

    • Three Rows Back · July 5, 2015

      Sorry for the very late reply! Hope you got to see it again!

  13. vinnieh · June 12, 2015

    Amazing review of one hell of a movie.

    • Three Rows Back · July 5, 2015

      God, I’ve just seen that I didn’t reply. Very sorry mate; thanks for that kind comment.

      • vinnieh · July 5, 2015

        No need to say sorry, it’s all cool.

  14. Tim The Film Guy · June 13, 2015

    Great review. Who would have thought this would have been this good?
    Just fun bombastic film from start to finish 😀

  15. Jay · June 17, 2015

    This movie was plenty fun,b ut more than fun. Really set the bar high for big crazy summer movies, and I wish they all lived up to it!

  16. Victor De Leon · August 22, 2015

    finally got around to seeing this last week on the big screen. my Son treated his old man to a matinee and the film was stunning on all levels. I have already pre-ordered my blu ray. great review, Mark!

    • Three Rows Back · August 23, 2015

      It’s absolutely ace isn’t it? Glad you finally checked it out!

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