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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