“Feels like hope.”
Director George Miller continues his post-apocalyptic action “Mad Max” film series 30 years after the previous installment “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”, which puts him in his fifth decade of filmmaking. Miller and a brave filmmaking crew put audiences close to the driver’s seat in an action-packed story focusing on the Fury Road path that continues Max’s long trek instead of rebooting it.
Stunt workers, second unit directors, and cinematographer John Seale (“The English Patient”, “Rain Man”) deserve great credit for helping the 70-year-old Miller achieve an amazing filmmaking work that begins with a dichotomy between the two main characters – Max Rockantasky and Imperator Furiosa.
This unpredictable story, written by Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nick Lathouris (who actually had a brief role in the original 1979 “Mad Max” film), is basically the ultimate chase film set in Australia years after Max lost his family. This amazing film has shot in one of the world’s oldest deserts (Namib Desert in Africa) and in sequence.
Bleak environments reveal blurs of beautiful as everyone is predictably in survival mode, which also explains why some characters endure amazing situations that are equally bleak. Max, played by Tom Hardy (“The Dark Knight Rises”), takes risks because he has nothing to lose with only haunting memories of a family gone. Actions are his words, but when Hardy speaks he makes these words impactful with great choices in fluctuation and tone.
The equally stoic Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, slowly reveals her motives, which are driven by the antagonist Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne (“Toecutter” in the 1979 original) and his brutal rule that marginalizes everyone, but a select few from his minions including Nux, played by Nicholas Hoult (“X-Men: Days of Future Past”), an ailing young man teetering on the edge of death who goes full circle from devout Joe worshipper to heroic life protector. Two key character groups also make big impacts and appear in the first-third and second-third of this visceral film.
Miller presents this world using a raw, basic approach as audiences get an amazing ride. Filmmakers forge deep emotional connections amid the chaotic, chase sequences that are mostly CGI-free – an amazing achievement on its own.
The music score is powerful, but out-of-place. Tom Holkenborg (a.k.a. Junkie XL) keeps the energy high at times and filmmakers incorporate the music through a memorable character, but I would have preferred a more documentary-style approach with more engine roars and sound effects.
Max and Furiosa combine their personal fury into unique mix where impressive threat assessment tactics and heartfelt consideration towards community benefit to separate justice and revenge while diminishing each character’s self-seeking tendencies so the greater good can win in the end.
An important character decision before the film’s climax progresses both of these views – a dangerous choice yet necessary to save as many people as possible – and an important theme where audiences can ask themselves would they be self-sacrificing for a better world or be self-satisfied with “good enough”.
Audience also get an added glimmer of Miller’s dark humor when a brave action prompts a supporting reaction from a usually stoic character then quickly ends in a brutal tragedy. This character does not have the same fighting chance as the experienced Max and Furiosa, but it’s admirable that she would try any way.
Unique filmmaking visualized in the global language of survival. Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout and disturbing images. Also showing in 3D, a first in this film franchise.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler