With the advent of my podcast a couple of months ago, I've been spending a bit more time watching rather than just reading (which partially accounts for my significant dip in reading output; the other part being upping my training for my long-distance running as we enter into the cooler months here in Australia). Anyway, I figured I might indulge some of those reviews, especially when I have a strong positive or negative reaction to something I've viewed. Such as with Mad Max: Fury Road.
It's an all too rare event when a film lives up to the hype, but Mad Max: Fury Road proves that such a thing can and does happen.
Co-written and directed by the creator of the original three films, George Miller, and reportedly years (beyond the norm) in the making, Fury Road is quite simply a labour of love from a 70 year old who has time and again delivered diverse, innovative films. And Fury Road may just be the crown jewel of that incredible career.
The plot is lean, but Miller and his co-writers provide just enough information to keep the audience hooked as the first of many incredible chase scenes get underway. To start, Max (now played by Tom Hardy) is captured by a group called the War Boys, whose leader, King Immortan Joe, styles himself as a god and keeps the majority of his subjects in thrall with an ample supply of fresh water. But when one of his trusted lieutenants, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) suddenly goes off book with her truck meant to gather gasoline, Max soon finds himself an unwilling part of the pursuit party, chained to the bonnet of a car while serving as a mobile blood bank to the previously injured driver, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a loyal War Boy if ever there was one.
Despite their limited backstorys, most of the characters are memorable. Theron is the stand-out as the betraying lieutenant with a hidden agenda, but Hoult also makes an impression as the War Boy who ends up being more than a standard henchman foil. If there is one slightly less impressive performance, it's actually Hardy in the titular role, as he chooses to play Max as less roguishly confident and far more sullen than Mel Gibson's portrayal back before he mulleted up for the Lethal Weapon series.
But really, the actors are just window dressing here. Fury Road is all about the action sequences, and it's in this department that Miller and his crew excel. Relentless, audacious, bombastic and jaw-dropping, the chase scenes need to be seen to be believed (and the trailer doesn't even spoil all the best parts!). For me, each scene built perfectly on the back of the previous one, until the final sequence literally had me shivering with joy. The shit-eating grin I had plastered across my face for much of the last half-hour of this movie was only interrupted by the gasps of disbelief I found myself uttering.
In short, sequels do not come better. It's going to take a hell of a lot to de-throne Fury Road from its current position as my favourite film of the year. See it at the cinema on the biggest, loudest screen you can find (partly because the soundtrack is also amazing).
I can't be any more direct than that.
4.5 Lovely Days for Mad Max: Fury Road.