– Steve Stebbing.
Mad Max: Fury Road is, by far, one of the greatest cinematic experiences I have ever had in theatres. I know what you may be thinking. Yes, that’s a huge statement and no, I don’t think I’m over selling it. There is nothing out there that looks like this film or moves like this film. Director and Writer George Miller continues down the path of his own creation, one that only he has helmed all the instalments of, and delivers something absolutely unique, which in this day and age, is incredibly rare. At 70 years old, Miller proves that he is truly an innovator and pushes the boundaries on how films are made.
One of my favourite things I read before my first of two viewings was about the screening at the South By South West Festival this year, where Miller showed the audience a single scene. After the scene concluded a man stood up in the audience and said, “How the hell did you make that?!?” The man was film-maker Robert Rodriguez, the director of El Mariachi, Desperado and Sin City, known for being able to stretch a small budget and make great looking films. Even he was mystified by the masterpiece George Miller had created and he’d only seen one solitary scene. Now I’ve seen the fully finished product and went back for seconds. It’s just that good.
The film opens on our titular character with the voice-over we hear in the trailer, explaining who he is and what the state of the world is. Immediately after our intro to Max Rockatansky he is chased down and captured by the Warboys, the minions of Immortan Joe, a tyrannical ruler over the wasteland, who has totally control over the remaining resources of the world, most importantly, water. Once captured Max is brought back to The Citadel, Immortan Joe’s base of operations, and made into a “bloodbag” for one of the Warboys, Nux, played by X-Men’s Nicholas Hoult.
This is roughly where our other lead, Charlize Theron, enters the film. Imperator Furiosa is, against her will, Immortan Joe’s champion, a tough and weathered woman who has been pushed to her edge and decides to make an escape with Joe’s five wives, selected women for the sole purpose of producing children. Under the guise of going to find more gasoline, Furiosa heads out on the road in her War Rig with a small convoy in tow keeping watch on her. When she deviates from the proposed path, Immortan Joe is immediately notified and sees that his wives are missing. He assembles his war party and our movie is now well under way.
This film is an absolute visual feast, as we are right with the action on the road for, really, a two-hour car chase but, for me, you never really feel any monotony in that. Immortan Joe is a fierce villain whose war party resembles something like that of an old king’s. He has a fleet of vehicles manned by soldiers willing to lay their lives down at any time for him and two other brothers in arms with their own respective armies. Hell, he even has a sort of minstrel vehicle, equipped with six drummers and an absolutely insane looking guitar player slamming around on a bungee cord like the tenth member of Slipknot.
Another huge plus about this film are the outrageous stunt sequences throughout. The stunts of this film will absolutely blow your mind as, astoundingly, they’re 95% practical. Ninety five percent! Yes, I had to write that out for emphasis. It’s reported that Miller hired the riggers from the last couple of summer Olympics worked extensively on this film, paying an obsessively close mind to the safety of the cast and crew. The result is an amazing carnage with an almost Cirque De Soleil quality.
Now, something I didn’t want to talk about was the backlash to the feminist quality of this film but since the release this past Friday, it really seems to be the hot button issue. It seems some men feel “duped” by the trailer and were shocked to find a heavily female lead movie. Yes, I agree, there are no “damsels in distress” in this film and Furiosa is just as capable as Max in delivering an ass kicking but, so what? Really, what is so offensive about this to the male gender? Apparently, people also don’t like Furiosa giving Max orders in which he follows. Given the context of the movie, why wouldn’t he follow what she says? Can we not be satisfied with the fact that the earned each other mutual respect through pure survival? Things like this make me shake my head and utter the now almost clichéd statement, “I don’t want to live on this planet any more.”
The bottom line, if I can give this review one, is if you don’t see Mad Max: Fury Road while it is playing in theaters you are doing yourself a gross cinematic disservice. Simply put, there is no other film like this. Not a lot of dialogue at all, but that’s not at all what this is about. It’s a gas guzzling thrill ride with a great heart and soul to it that is so unrelenting in its intensity that you can almost hear the audience gasping from excitement the few times we fade to black before continuing the journey down Fury Road. For those that love the “Too Long/Didn’t Read” summary, I say this: Stop what you’re doing, go to your local theatre, buy a ticket, take the ride!