Mad Max: Fury Road: Australian Review

Relentless. That's the perfect word to sum up Mad Max: Fury Road.

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Editor's Note: This is a spoiler-free review!

Mad Max: Fury Road is proof that Australia can make a film worthy of your time. It's proof that we have a huge creative industry in this country that gives you more than glamorous heroin addicts in love (to coin a Tony Martin-ism).

It shows that we can make something that will have audiences literally queuing around the block as I did last night. Village Roadshow for all its crazy views on piracy and the nature of content distribution still knows how to make a proper blockbuster.

It's hard to describe the plot of the film, mostly because it's just a two-hour long car chase. Here's how the studio describes it:

In the year 2060, after a series of catastrophic worldwide calamities caused the downfall of civilisation, Max, a former highway patrolman whose family was killed in the early days of the societal collapse, meets Furiosa, a woman attempting to cross an immense desert.
With her are former female captives collectively known as the Five Wives. They are on the run from the tyrannical Fascist leader, King Immortan Joe and his bloodthirsty military force, the War Boys, who rule over a totalitarian desert kingdom called the Wasteland. Joe wants the Wives back because they are fertile enough to breed the next generation of the human race to be remade in Joe's twisted image.
Their only hope of reaching safety is Max and his expansive knowledge of the desert's many dangers. Max initially refuses, but when he is captured and tortured by Joe, his only chance of escape depends on Furiosa and the Wives. With the War Boys in hot pursuit, this unlikely band must fight for their survival.

To be honest, that gives the film's story a lot of credit. It's a very simple movie when you boil it down. There isn't a single character that has more than 20 lines of dialogue, and to be honest that's quite a good thing. This movie is a blunt object: a simple blockbuster designed to thrill you until you can't take it anymore.

It's also incredibly beautiful. It was shot on-location in South Africa and Australia, and edited spectacularly. When this comes out on Blu-ray I'll be using it as the new test media for all the TVs that come through the Gizmodo Labs.

The shots are massive and capture the landscape beautifully. You can tell that shots have been extended in post to make them look bigger and more beautiful, but it's subtle and adds to the immersion rather than detracting from it. The beauty draws you in and your brain is fooled just enough to think its real, as opposed to a film like 300 where you knew all of it was fake and comic book-like.

There has also been a great consideration placed on sound design in Fury Road. Almost every line of dialogue sounds as if it was re-recorded in post-production for maximum grunt. Speaking of grunt, the cars also sound as vicious as the lunatics driving them.

Tom Hardy plays a great Max, even if he is doing Bane-voice the whole time. The real star of the film is Charlize Theron's Furiosa character, however. Throughout the film I kept coming back to how good it would have been if they had recast the character of Max as a woman and flipped the script on the whole franchise. That being said, the film has a cast of badass ladies that absolutely tear the world to shreds. You can play spot the Aussie in the cast as well! There's Megan Gale, John Howard (not the eyebrows one), Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Abbey Lee and Courtnay Eaton just to name a few.

Fury Road lives up to the violent tone established in the earlier Max-iverse films, but it's far from explicit. I feel like much of it is implied throughout the film rather than shown outright. There's splatter sound here, a wide-shot cause of death there, and red paint exploding in a crash rather than blood spraying everywhere. It's balls-to-the-wall when it comes to the action, and the body count is massive, but when you really reflect on it at the end of the film, it's not as bloodthirsty as it could have been. It's certainly less gory than something like Dredd.

Some of the films we review are only for certain audiences. You have to look beyond a few things to extract a little bit of joy from them. That's not the case with Fury Road. It's bonkers in every sense of the word. It looks bonkers, it sounds bonkers. It. Is. Fucking. Bonkers.

And for what it's worth, I loved it despite having never seen a Mad Max film in my life. This film stands perfectly on its own and is great for first-timers.

Stop reading this. Go and see it.

Then see it again.

Mad Max: Fury Road is in cinemas now.

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    It is so bloody good. The best (western) action film of the 21st century. A mental, bananas masterpiece. See it on the biggest screen you can find.

      good to hear. lucky i'm booked in to see it on 3d imax this weekend.. can't wait. :)

    what's it rated?

      R for "Really Fucking Awesome!"

        its kinda weird for me, because there wasnt any gore or extreme violence and theres was hardly any nudity and zero drug use and less explosions than a transformers movie, there was hardly and talking and i dont remember much swearing or even any f bombs of c bombs. could of easily been given an MA rating instead.

        Either that or i'm just really fucking desenitized to high level violence

        Last edited 18/05/15 12:45 pm

    So glad to hear this. My wife worked on Happy Feet and I had the chance to meet George Miller. Was such a lovely, down to earth guy....clearly has one hell of an imagination. Stoked this is good. Cant wait to see it.

    Are you kidding me Luke...Have you really not even see the first Max?? Leave work right NOW and go to JB and get a copy of at least Mad Max 1 and then we can talk.

    A review from someone who has not seen the previous films is only half a review.

      Well, if nothing else it doesn't help provide a well-rounded review, especially given that lots of people here seem to have watched the original trilogy. In comparison, Fury Road is very cartoonish. It works, but it's lacking the realism and grittiness that made the first 3 so good.

      This film is completely self contained and does not require any prior knowledge of the other films.

    I'm looking forward to seeing Fury Road, especially since there has been so much speculation over the years. A little part of me is, however, slightly saddened over how (judging by the trailers) it's heading closer towards fantasy comic book material with each iteration. The first movie felt disturbingly close to our lived realities, whilst 3 (and perhaps 4) might as well have been set on Mars. I'll reserve judgement until after I've seen it :)

      OK, finally found the time to watch it. I was rather disappointed, with 'comic book' being a very apt description - like something from the 2000AD universe. Violence was exceedingly gratuitous yet sanitized at the same time (Wile E Coyote style), unlike the raw heaviness of Mad Max 2. Despite being a cool character, I can't imagine the Doof Warrior being in the second movie.

      All I could think of during the mud scene was the Top Gear Botswana Special.

    "Tom Hardy plays a great Max, even if he is doing Bane-voice the whole time."

    So, I am not sure who Tom Hardy is exactly (I don't watch a lot of movies or keep track of actors these days).. so I go to imdb and look him up. He was in Inception, and now I recognize him from there. Looks fairly different from what I've seen of him in the fury road trailers, but ok, sure.. he's Max.

    Then, I recalled that quote above from the article and sure enough, he's Bane in the DKR movie.. but I just can't wrap my head around it.. I'm looking at his imdb entries, looking at the photos of him in all three films and just.. HOW????

    How does he change his body shape so radically? Maybe camera angles and costume and makeup have a bigger effect than I perceive, but.. yeah, wow.. Inception guy to Bane to Max, the difference is amazing. (IMO). Still having trouble believing it's the same actor from the imdb photos heh.

      Wait till you look up all of Christian Bale's body transformations.

      :/ the movies are fairly far apart there's plenty of time to change your body that much.

      If you'll notice, while Hardy was doing Bane he wasn't exactly lean, he was very bulky and focused a lot of work on his upper body especially his shoulders.

      He's also been in a movie called bronson where he was very big as well as warrior.

      Inception and Mad max are more of a natural state for his body where he sits usually without heavy regiment and weight training.

      Agree with Kaiminator though, check out Christian Bale's transformations, Leo Dicaprio has also done a few, Jonah Hill and even Mark Wahlberg

    Well, Luke, not to go on about it, but we (in this house) just re- watched Mad Max 2 on TV just last week, and commented how we did good in Oz with Mad Max. It may be a come-down for you after Fury Road; I don't know, but try and get a look at them. You won't be disappointed. I look forward to seeing Fury Road and hope Max does good.

    Just stepped outta cinema, tempted to walk back in for another go. Seriously batshit crazy good fun. A couple of annoying minor quirks perhaps but still the best aussie flick ive seen in a lonnnnngggg time. Telling me they AREN'T some serious eyebrows?

    What, you haven't seen the original Mad Max? This was the film that launched Mel Gibson's career. Seriously, it's very sad Luke and I really can't take this review seriously until you have.

    I saw this last night in 3D. I have to say that synopsis is a little too spoilery for me. I'm glad I knew nothing about it before seeing it.

    BTW the movie was Awesome.

    " It was shot on-location in Namibia and Australia, and edited spectacularly. ".

    Saying South Africa is like saying Australia when you mean New Zealand.

      Apologies. We saw in the credits that it was shot using a South Africa unit. I inferred based on that.

        Max initially refuses, but when he is captured and tortured by Joe, his only chance of escape depends on Furiosa and the Wives.

        This part is also wrong.

    Tom Hardy plays a great Max, even if he is doing Bane-voice the whole time.
    Actually, Tom Hardy really sucks in this film. In the original trilogy, Max actually had a personality. In this one, he's barely alive. It's the most disappointing aspect of this film.

    It does some things really well, and some things poorly.
    The really well: good chase scene/s; stunts, explosions etc; Zoe Kravitz's rack; a short but effective story.
    The poor: Tom Hardy sucks as Mad Max; the Citadel & the cars are a bit too new; a few weak plot points.
    Overall it's great. The only thing I mostly didn't like was that the Citadel etc didn't feel authentic. It's not bad, but by comparison, Barter Town in Beyond Thunderdome had a much more organic feel to it. Obviously they couldn't do the same thing again, but they did a better job of it before.

      Spot on, Chomps! However, I don't think he was a bad actor so much as there was no story or drama to act to. There is no back story, just action, so it leaves every character empty. The audience has nothing to care about or attach empathy to. And ya, The Citadel was too jumpy-the-sharky, like it was some video game bullshit.

      Max is meant to be fairly emotionless, he only really shows extreme emotion, i.e when he sees goose, when his wife and baby are killed.

      If you watch the first one you'll notice he doesn't have many lines and they tried to replicate it in this one, i haven't yet seen it though so that's as far as i can comment.

    Very disappointed to say the least. Lots of crash and bang with not much else. A few of the female 'ACT-ORS' should consider other career options as thier performances were wet and wooden. If you are a male and smoke cigarettes, watch car racing, eat steaks well done and read magazines with titles such as 'Jugs' then this cruds for you!

    +1 I had little background knowledge of Mad Max so perhaps this was my problem. I found it tediously, endlessly crash-bang and the portrayal of women was still so stereotyped, agree that they were not great actors at all. Didn't like Tom Hardy - he didn't come across with a lot of personality. Cannot understand all the hype. What was the story trying to tell us exactly?

    First movie I've watched on the big screen in a fair while, appreciated it for some of the audio design and there were parts which were pretty badass, but I'm not sure I could ever sit through it all again. Went half an hour too long for my tastes and I was glad when I got to leave.

    That blonde was stunning, though.

    Yep enjoyed the movie a lot, seen it twice. Surprisingly it managed to keep me on the edge of my seat. When you think its going to just drag along cause its like one whole chase, it doesn't. It brings in something new every time. Most films don't seem to have this feeling, but by the time the credits roll, you feel like you watched a film that just feels 'complete'. I cannot more than recommend worth watching on the big screen! 9/10

    I liked it but I don't think I was liking the movie itself, I think I was more liking the costume set, the engineering, the choreography, the (sparse but strangely alluring) scenery.
    I had no idea what I was watching, if it was a book it felt like I was reading chapter 13 of a book without having read anything of chapters 1 to 12 or 14 through to x.
    It just felt like the pod race from Star Wars episode 1 had they made that one scene into an entire movie (although they almost painfully did) without worrying about the other parts of the story that were in Episode 1 (well, umm take it in context).
    I know it was supposed to be a movie where you didn't need to see the other Mad Max's but I just felt I was missing something.
    I have now gone out and bought the original trilogy to see if that helps me understand what fury road was trying to say in its story.

    Like others the Bane voice gave me the shits, I hope they re-record this before the directors cut. The landscape and theme continued on from Mad Max 3 (worse Mad Max everrrr) but there was very little story line. I miss the rawness and realism of the first movie. I missed the storyline and character development. The visual impact and artistry of this movie was amazing, the stunts amazing, the landscape amazing, there's no doubt it's an epic film. Like many other modern movies with huge stunts and effects you had very little fear that any of the main actors are ever in danger because suddenly half the cast is superhuman. There's no doubt that the Mad Max franchise is moving from the original real and gritty view of the future to a comic book hero. Both are awesome but i'm struggling to make the connection.

    I could outline the plot in 3 lines

    This place is shit lets leave for a better place. Oh the better place is shit too now. Lets go back

    Inset major chase over the top action sequences in between each line and lets call it Mad Max Fury Road.

    Almost no plot, minimal character development, massive holes in the almost no-existent plot like

    Why did the 3 war parties keep coming together and splitting up, its not like they had clear tracks to follow in the sand or anything. What stopped the rest of the war boys continuing back home? I mean its almost like they didn't clear out that exact spot in the canyon a few days before. and why the hell would the war pups etc. let her back into the citadel after she betrayed their father/leader/god

    If you want action, action and more ACTION, go see it.
    If you kind of like you movies to make sense... for a movie, don't.

    Oh and BTW massive fan of the first 2, I like the movies so much I bought the car, An XB Hardtop!

    Fucking Awesome movie, Hats off to Aussie cinema...

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