Take an Insanely Brilliant Trip Down “Fury Road”
Three decades away from the big screen, Mad Max: Fury Road couldn’t come at a more perfect time. There have been too many summer tentpoles floating about, flaunting excessive visuals and hollow narratives.
Taking place in an undisclosed time after Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy replacing Mel Gibson) finds himself still navigating through a post-apocalyptic wasteland in his signature Ford Falcon. Within moments of the film’s opening, Max is already in a heap of trouble. The former Australian patrol officer is captured by War Boys – devout albino minions of the local warlord, Immortan Joe.
Although the title of the film is Mad Max: Fury Road, Max himself is hardly the driving force. For the first 30 minutes, Max is caught up in the thick of the plot, yet he has little to no control over the actual journey. Max remains in captivity until word spreads through the Citadel that Joe’s most trusted lieutentant Furiosa (Charlize Theron) betrayed the despot during a routine trip to neighboring Gas Town. Her crime – sneaking Joe’s wives (moreso to him breeders and property) out of the Citadel to safety.
Max is brought to the front lines as a blood bag for sickly War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Strapped to the front of Nux’s car with a Bane mask once again, Max is a firsthand spectator for an relentless chase across the desert between Joe’s war party and Furiosa’s lone rig. After a sandstorm breaks up the purusit, Max aligns with Furiosa after some reluctance en route to a fabled paradise.
From here on out, Fury Road is the Furiosa show to the point where Mad Max: Fury Road should technically have an asterisk next to its more appropriate title – Furiosa: Co-Starring Mad Max. To be perfectly honest, relegating Max to the grunt guy falls in line with how George Miller’s screenplay is already unfolding. Beyond the minimal dialogue and excess grunting, he’s the behind-the-scenes muscle with one real purpose – survival.
While Hardy is a solid subsitute for Gibson, it’s Theron who’s the unquestionable powerhouse. From the same vein as Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley, Furiosa is this generation’s standout female action hero. Fortunately, Miller’s script tunes out any melodramatic backstory or intentions. Towards the end of Fury Road, Furiosa is broken. And while it would be easy to express her emotions verbally, her precise gestures tell the entire story. It also helps that Junkie XL’s score swells up to an all-time high as well.
With Fury Road, director George Miller is in a class of his own. At the surface, Mad Max: Fury Road comes across as a two-hour high octane chase across the Australian wasteland. And yet, it’s a mainstream film that transcends into genuine art. Extremely scarce on dialogue, there’s little risk in overindulging exposition, an epidemic in many mainstream films. Miller himself described Fury Road as a silent film where the visuals alone could be understood in any language.
That in itself is a fine accomplishment. If not grabbed by the straightforward narrative, the practical stunts and effects are worth the price of admission. Seeing films like Mad Max go visually back to basics is a treat. The blatant commentary of this summer’s Jurassic World is how audiences crave bigger and more ridiculous effects. Spectacle and gratifications are simply overblown.
Fury Road still has one foot grounded in reality and one in a nuclear holocaust fantasy. It’s not every day you see a guitarist with a flame-throwing instrument revving up the troops. By the way, the Coma Doof Warrior, as he’s affectionately known, is a welcome breakout star.
There is not one moment wasted in Mad Max: Fury Road. Miller proudly defies the disappointment found in countless other sequels and reboots spawning from 80s classics.
Warner’s 1080p / AVC transfer details the post-apocalyptic world with ease. Colors are spot on, retaining much of the intense experience from the theater. Max’s world is a gritty wasteland and there’s plenty of authentic vibes even from the heavily CG spots like the sandstorm sequence and the final canyon chase.
Anything short of Warner Bros. Dolby True HD 7.1 surround track would not do Mad Max: Fury Road any justice. Fortunately every beat of the War Boys drums to Coma Doof Warrior’s guitar is delightfully crisp. The constant roar of the engines and Junkie XL’s intense score are highlighted wonderfully. However, some dialogue from Hardy can be difficult to understand at times.
With less than two hours of supplements, the combo pack is a tad limiting. Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road clocks in a just under 30 minutes. It’s the most comprehensive of the bunch, highlighting the challenge of the cast and crew. Fury on Four Wheels is nearly as long, focusing on the wild vehicles used in the film. The Road Warriors: Max and Furiosa is a 11-minute featurette on Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron’s lead characters. The Tools of the Wasteland goes in depth about the various tools and weapons that exist in Max’s post-apocalyptic world including the audience favorite, flamethrower guitar. The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome goes further in depth about Immortan Joe’s wives. It’s clearly a step up from the shorter featurette online. There are also four minutes of deleted scenes and a few minutes of pre-CG visuals.
Mad Max: Fury Road is one of those rare action spectacles that will stand the test of time alongside Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Terminator. Even at 70 years old, George Miller knocked it out of the park yet again.
- Movie: A+ (10/10)
- Video: A (10/10)
- Audio: A (10/10)
- Special Features: C+ (6/10)