Review: I recently marathoned the Mad Max movies. Starting with the 1979 original 2 days ago, yesterday I moved on to Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. I skipped, or rather did not have time for Beyond Thunderdome (1984) as a recent Joblo article suggested to me it wasn’t vital, though I still plan on watching it. I am sorry if I frustrate any viewers who are fans of it by not having the requisite knowledge contained in Mad Max 3.
The peculiar thing about Mad Max is that beyond the apocalyptic landscape is that there isn’t a whole lot of mythology. In a post nuclear war people fight for gasoline and/ or go mad. Also water is power. All of Max’s character history is worn and carried on him; his one-armed jacket, leg brace, and now tattoos. Whether he is haunted by future visions or past nightmares it is unclear.
Essentially one big chase film, Fury Road is a pretty great action movie. Great looking in landscape and definitely the cast, it is impressive to see the vision brought forth over 30 years ago come back to life on a 9-figure budget, and director George Miller doesn’t waste it. The stunt work is practical, the CGI enhances the landscape. The budget is big but it still recognizes itself as a B-movie.
As a fan of the genre and its several mixes, the film almost feels like a primer for something bigger. Critics have recognized a narrative heft I do not recognize, beyond the elegant imagery. There is likely some sort of philosophy I missed, but the film is worth repeat viewings, and I’m anxious to see it again. I crave more Mad Max after watching this film, and can’t wait for the upcoming game.
The characters in the film are plenty and intriguing. Charlize Theron as Furiosa doubles as a lead protagonist to Max, and the rest of the female characters ‘The Wives’ are variously beautiful and vulnerable. The hiring of noted playwright Eve Ensler as a consultant was a great choice that almost gives birth to a feminist cinema.
All of the acting, direction. music, editing and choreography is great. With the last only coming up short with the best of the Fast & Furious movies. Speaking of which this is better than the last two movies I saw; Avengers 2 and Furious 7.
The downside to the organic nature of the movie, borne out of storyboards with the script coming later, is that the movie seems unsure of how to properly pay its characters off. Any onscreen death seems inconsequential remaining slightly awkward. So much I am surprised like the first two, that this wasn’t a PG-13 film. The character of Nux, wanting to die a glorious death anointed by the villain Immortan Joe seems at odds with the rest of the good guys. Whatever conflict; structural or narrative consequence the War Boy’s fate has Miller remains indifferent to it. Alas, the wasteland’s heartbeat continues rage on without them. As the simple plot drives forward; an escape to paradise or race back to it, the mad pace of film does relinquish control of its characters. This keeps the film from being totally satisfying, it delivers what is promised and walks away without asking what you wanted more, just like Max would.
- Tom Hardy was 6 weeks old when the first Mad Max began filming
- Heath Ledger was initially set to play Max before his untimely death in 2008
- Originally set to film overseas in 2001, 9/11 offset the filming as it was considered politically sensitive.
- Nambia was set as a filming location before rainfall overcame and changed the landscape.
- Mel Gibson met with Tom Hardy once to give his blessing on the part of Mad Max