Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Fury Road was my first foray into George Miller’s alluring, apocalyptic world of Mad Max. Oddly enough, my only experience with any of Miller’s other work prior to this came with Babe: Pig in the City when I was much younger. I think it’s fair to say both films are somewhat different and I think it’s blatantly obvious that this franchise holds a place in his heart hence the prolonged nature of its reincarnation. Now, I’ve read many opinions stating that to really get the most out of this film then you should revisit or watch the original Gibson led trilogy. I ignored this advice in 2015 and it really didn’t lessen my enjoyment at all.
It’s been three decades since the last incarnation hit the silver screens and man the film is beautiful in just about every way. The story is pretty damn simple too, which is one of the big positives for me. It’s essentially a two hour long, prolonged chase scene filled with absolute madness throughout. Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) betrays her screwball boss Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a rather vile looking, mask wearing villain of the film and Max (Tom Hardy) at this stage being used as a blood donor is left with an enviable decision and ends up embroiled within the chaos too. It’s a world suffering from the inhospitable after effects of a nuclear holocaust and there’s several different wacky, looking tribes vying for resources, be it ammunition, water or gasoline.
The aforementioned Immortan Joe is lording it up as a messiah figure at the Citadel, a vast, towering, rock formation that’s swarming with the weird powdered looking ‘War Boys’. It also has a large quantity of water, a precious commodity. The former are foot soldiers that possess devotion heavily inspired by the infamous Japanese, WWII, Kamikaze pilots. With pretty much all of them afflicted by cancerous lymphoma, a direct result of the radioactive nature of the environment, the ‘half-lives’ require frequent blood transfusions to extend their life, hence the need for someone like Max. There’s two other main factions which don’t get anywhere near the level of fleshing out that the Citadel and War Boys receive, but needless to say, our protagonists severely piss off Joe and all three come riding after them.
It’s not for precious commodities that they give chase however. No, it’s the five ‘stolen’ wives of Joe that they’re after. And Furiosa, spurred on with a cherished memory of the ‘green place’ from her childhood decides to save the quintet of beautiful women and take them there far from the clutches of their wretched husband. There’s one fascinating, if not grim, insight into what Joe does with his cast offs when Miller shows a line of overweight women being used for their breast milk. There’s definitely the usual undertones of feminism present in there, but that seems to be prevalent in just about everything nowadays and it fits well with the story in all honesty, never truly drawing attention away from the myriad of events taking place in rapid succession.
Speaking of which, I’ll quickly get into some performances in this film. Charlize Theron is utterly brilliant in Fury Road. She portrays a fiercely strong character that perfectly offsets the gruff Max. Furiosa has the most development in the film and you feel genuinely sorry for her when it becomes apparent that the memories of her childhood have been wiped out. Tom Hardy isn’t given much lines in the film, which is criminal given the distinct, demulcent tones he possesses, but Max is a man of few words and there is some development of the character at least with the flashbacks and his progression away from being a lone wolf. Nicholas Hoult was also very impressive as Nux, who I’ve failed to mention at all, a War Boy that goes through a rollercoaster of emotions and is just really cool character.
Visually, it just doesn’t get any better than this for me. This film is just unbelievably beautiful in every way. The incredible wide shots, the mesmerising CG, the blisteringly paced and choreographed action sequences and the amazing costume and prop designs. It’s supposed to be a world that’s feels lived in, much like the original Star Wars trilogy, and it absolutely excels in capturing that feel. I don’t think I can praise John Seale enough for what he accomplished with Fury Road. It’s criminal that this film didn’t win the Oscar for cinematography or visual effects. The weird and wacky vehicles looked like something out of a 80s action film, but in a positive way, whilst the sandstorm scene, complete with lightning and tornadoes tearing past the War Rig was perhaps my favourite of the film.
The one minor niggle I had with the film and I must stress it’s a MINOR niggle was the lack of justification or explanation for Furiosa agreeing to smuggle the wives away. I could understand her deciding to head back to her youthful shangri-la and stumbling across Max on the way, but the whole wife thing was a slight stretch. Max too never really explains his motivation for helping out apart from the urgent need to escape the blood thirsty War Boys and his high value status as a universal donor. Thankfully though, the action is so enjoyable to watch that it’s never really an issue, something more than likely helped by the lightning quick pacing of the story for the better part of two hours. I absolutely recommend this if you have t seen it already. Me personally, I’ve seen it about half a dozen times now and can never get tired of it.