To paraphrase my favorite line from “Mad Max: Fury Road” – “Oh what a film! What a lovely film!”
Recently I’ve started to bemoan the death of the classic action flick. The intricacies of a mind-blowing action scene have been rendered simplistic by nerds with a mouse. CGI and green screens have replaced jaw-dropping stunt work and brilliant choreography. But leave it up to 70-year-old director George Miller to truly go old school with “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The director of the original “Mad Max” from over 35 years ago returns to the franchise that put him on the map and gives audiences what will probably be the action movie of the year. And yes, he’s also the guy who directed “Babe.”
Here’s five questions for “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
What’s it about?
Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is a prisoner who’s used as a universal blood donor for an army of war boys. He finds his chance to escape when he tags along with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who decides to betray Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and return to her homeland. An insanely memorable two-hour car chase ensues.
Really? The film is a two-hour car chase?
Pretty much! I remember when I first saw “Speed” and left the theater with my heart still pounding because the film never let up once it got started. It was just one breathtaking action scene after another. Well, think of that kind of pedal-to-the-metal type of pace, but 100 times more intense. That’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
One might think that an overload of action would just numb one senseless with all of the constant visual stimulation. One could not be more wrong. Each action sequence stands on its own, with each subsequent chase scene bringing in a brand new element to keep things exciting. Your adrenaline will be pumping hard for this one, so take your medication if you’re weak of heart. I’m serious.
But does all that action mean that the characters suffer from lack of development?
Surprisingly, the character I found to be the least memorable was Max himself. He’s a man of action rather than words, but I feel like he could have been played by almost any tough, rugged actor. But every other key character besides Max is easily memorable. There’s the guy with all the nipples, the huge baby guy, the electric guitar guy… I’m kidding. I mean, those characters really do exist, but I really want to applaud the supporting cast for a job well done.
It’s almost insulting to categorize Theron in the supporting level because it could actually be argued that this is her movie and not Max’s. Theron gives a tremendous balls-to-the-wall performance that will undoubtedly go down as one of her most memorable roles. Nicholas Hoult also does a splendid job as Nux, the war boy who turns on his lord to help Max and Furiosa. He brings a lot of heart to the film. Hugh Keays-Byrne is excellent as the villain and the actresses who play his wives on the run also develop their own personalities and are easily distinguishable.
Do I have to watch the previous three Mad Max movies to know what’s going on?
This may surprise many because I consider myself to be a movie geek, but I myself have never seen any of the previous “Mad Max” films. I went in with a clean slate and obviously enjoyed the hell out of the movie. So I’m sure that fans of the previous three films will have a blast as well.
So where does “Mad Max: Fury Road” stand in comparison to other action classics?
It’s not quite at the same game-changing elite level as “Die Hard,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or “Hard Boiled,” but it comes really close. “Mad Max: Fury Road” comes at a time when special effects pass for action so is extremely refreshing as a result. But the film is more than an achievement in action. It is also technically brilliant. The cinematography, editing, camerawork, even the music are all award-worthy.
It may only be May but we already have a contender for one of my best films of the year.