Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Directed by George Miller. With Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. 

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As far as unexpected comebacks go, George Miller’s wildly successful return to his Mad Max series is an especially pleasing one. For fans, thirty long years have passed since 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. In that time, the film had existed in its own wasteland of stop/start development hell. It’s almost as if the frustration of those long wilderness years is harnessed into positive creative energy, as Miller spews out a barrage of sustained action sequences that hit you like a burning freight truck.

It’s a fiery, loud, clanging mangle of steampunk chaos, headed up Tom Hardy’s titular Max, a haunted survivor in post-apocalyptic Australia – a cruel desert ruled by military factions who suppress the masses by limiting water and supplies. Hardy recalls the hero of a bygone era; Clint Eastwood’s ‘man with no name’ (except he has a name) – a monosyllabic grafter with flickering remnants of a conscience, which rears up via subliminal images of the innocent lost.

Fleeing the gruesomely theatrical leader, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), Hardy is joined by the shaven-headed rebellion of Charlize Theron as Furiosa. It isn’t long before Theron emerges as the beating heart of the piece. Indeed, in a brutal world, women form the through-line of the narrative. Along with water, the fairer sex are symbols of hope – the only life-giving gifts that remain on a land so dead, that they’re easily worth dying for.

Contributing to the madness is Nicholas Hoult’s ‘Nux’, who represents a glimpse into the world of the brainwashed – a drone so indoctrinated through extreme suffering and poverty, that the promise of glory or a better afterlife makes him, and his like, eager to make the ultimate sacrifice. All skin and bones, Hoult is very good – battling himself and everyone on the way to being the most rounded character of the piece.

With the frenetic, unrelenting pace of the action, the film is carefully edited to drive home the impact. There’s nothing shiny and new here – everything is rotting with rust and decay, as the expressive physical designs on show offer an attention to detail that gives way to a sense of genuine depth. The cobbled together vehicles, charging through the unforgiving terrain, make for a lived-in quality that invites the imagination to fill in the gaps of what has become of this starved land.

At times, it feels a little bombastic, but it’s joyously theatrical too – like opera with huge trucks, one of which features a huge wall of amplifiers fronted by a guitar-hero-death-metal-punk, who orchestrates a full-throttle charge like Wagner and the helicopters in Apocalypse Now. Its pauses for breath are short, and it’s never seconds away from jolting us back into the frenzy. Yes, it’s completely mad, but would you want or expect anything else!? 4/5

About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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22 Responses to Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. I absolutely loved this film. I know a lot of people don’t because it focuses more on Furiosa than Max and who could not love the guitar guy or Nux.

    I watched the original three afterward, hated the first one and thought the last two were OK. Did you like them?

  2. vinnieh says:

    Bombastic, what a word to describe this high-octane ride.

  3. filmfunkel says:

    “Steampunk chaos-opera with huge trucks.” That’s beautiful. 😀

  4. Zoë says:

    Glad to see you enjoyed this so much. I thought it was an excellent film and I had an absolute blast with it. It’s balls to the wall crazy but it knows this and acknowledges it.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Great to hear from you! 🙂

      We’re on the same page with this one. Sand storms, dust cloud tornadoes, pedal-to-the-metal crazy action, all cranked up to number 11 – what’s not to enjoy!? Looking forward to revisiting it, as well as getting a sequel. There’s still so much to explore in this world.

  5. Pingback: Posts You Should Check Out Part 2 | vinnieh

  6. Reblogged this on Gay Guide To Asia & Cambodia and commented:
    “At times, it feels a little bombastic, but it’s joyously theatrical too – like opera with huge trucks, one of which features a huge wall of amplifiers fronted by a guitar-hero-death-metal-punk, who orchestrates a full-throttle charge like Wagner and the helicopters in Apocalypse Now. Its pauses for breath are short, and it’s never seconds away from jolting us back into the frenzy. Yes, it’s completely mad, but would you want or expect anything else!? 4/5”

  7. Sean says:

    I love this movie. It’s one of my favourites of 2015. It’s hard to compare to the old ones because I haven’t seen them in years, but from what I remember this movie captures the essence of them very well without feeling at all dated or rehashed. I really liked that about the film and I hope it gets a sequel or two of its own.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you for commenting, Sean. You make an excellent point in comparing it to the original. Miller did a terrific job of avoiding self parody, and he must get HUGE credit for making the film fresh and energetic. Clearly this was a passion project for him.

  8. Chris Evans says:

    Great review Gareth (you know my thoughts when I reviewed the film earlier in the year), I ended up picking Fury Road on Blu-ray and enjoyed it even more than I did in the cinema (although I did see it on an IMAX screen which can’t compete with my own screen at home). I only wish there had been more of Hardy’s Max but maybe in the sequel he’ll get more focus.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I envy you for having seen this on an IMAX screen. I only saw it a few days ago, but I’m ready for another watch. To be honest with you, I’m not sure I scored this right, it might actually be worth a slightly higher mark…a good excuse to revisit.

      Also, with you on Hardy, but hats off to Theron – she was absolutely amazing!

  9. squawk says:

    Yep, Mad Max kicked a**—-saw it twice on the big screen myself, and it was worth it—the second time was better because after having done some research online about the film, there were a lot of thing filled in for me the second time I saw it that helped me understand certain things that happened in it a little bit more. Probably the only film I’ve had to do that with this year, and I live seeing films that challenge me as a viewer like that. That usually dosen’t happen with your typical predictable Hollywood film (which this definitely wasn’t,thank goodness.) George Miller did himself proud on this film without making it just a boring rehash of the old series. (The original Mad Max was the first Australian film I’d ever seen and liked, so that’s why I was interesting enough to see this one.)

    And being a woman who loves action films, it was great (and refreshing as hell) to see a female lead who wasn’t turned into a sex object, wasn’t doing any nudity, and who was a tough, kick-a** character in her own right. Plus, the film itself was an equally bad-a** throwback to old-school action, minus most of the CGI–that’s also what made the action scenes so incredible.

    • garethrhodes says:

      What a fantastic response! Thank you for that. My only regret is that I didn’t see this protected on the scale that it deserves to be seen on. It’s encouraging to see a film-maker like George Miller, still taking monumental risks, and I admire him for creating a ballsy action epic around the idea of the sacred nature of femininity – but going beyond that to make women the equals of men. Hardy is a lot of fun, but Theron is my abiding memory.

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