It’s been exactly 30 years since the release of the third chapter of the post-apocalyptic fuel-pumped saga that redefined low budget action film-making (too much? Think again!).
In keeping with Hollywood’s recent cheap but lucrative trend of rebooting precious gems, Warner Bros summons the original Mad Max’s visionary director, George Miller, and puts 150M$ at his disposal to basically do whatever he wants with it. And he delivers: At age 70, Miller shows he still has more than one trick under his sleeve.
A nuclear Holocaust turns the world to a wasteland. Civilization collapsed, and humanity is reduced to barbaric tribes, fighting for water, oil and weapons. Max, a lone survivor, is captured by the War Boys and taken to their Citadel as a prisoner of their leader Immortan Joe. Being a universal blood donor, Max is used as a live blood bag for a dying War Boys member, Nux. Meanwhile, a gasoline expedition led by Imperator Furiosa deliberately derails from its path and goes off grid in an attempt to exfiltrate Immortan Joe’s Wives (a group of young and beautiful girls held captive for the sole purpose of breeding). What follows is 100 minutes chase movie.
With such a linear and traditional plot, the movie sounds like a silly straight-to-DVD action-er that I would watch only if I had to choose between it and twilight. And it could have been the case, if it weren’t for the solid performances, the gorgeous cinematography and insane action scenes.
Tom Hardy is very convincing as Max Rockatansky with his grizzly and imposing physique. Charlize Theron fits perfectly as Furiosa, the masculine female with an Alien 3 Ripley head crop. Nicholas Hoult shines with his delivery of the crazy “suicide bomber” who doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice himself to get to Valhalla while screaming allahu akbar “WHAT A LOVELY DAY!”. The supporting characters are amusing and colorful.
With a cinematographer as talented and as experienced as John Seale, you know the movie is going to look great. In fact, shot sizes and shot angles almost never distract the viewer. And since a lot is happening in one shot, center-framing and “Eye Trace” keep you focused on the important stuff.
Just as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin used slapstick and situational comedy to tell their stories, George Miller relies on choreographed and almost ballet-like action as a medium and a way to propel the story. From start to finish, the high-octane chases, fights and explosions go from loud to louder, making use of old school practical special effects as well as state-of-the-art camerawork techniques. The result is an unapologetically grotesque but mind-blowing crescendo of testosterone, adrenaline and gasoline.
And seriously, how often do you get to see a guy riding to his imminent death shredding it on a flame-throwing guitar?
In finality, I would say that watching Mad Max: Fury Road is like riding a roller-coaster while getting blown you’re high on speed. It will blow your mind.