Director: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Mad Max fans can rest assured. This latest iteration in the iconic series does justice to the original vision, rather than being a Hollywood cash cow reboot a la Robocop and Total Recall.
A catch-cry of internet message boards for months has been “the trailer gives away all the good bits!” That can be said of Fury Road, for sure, which also falls into the recent trend of revealing the climatic shot of the final big set piece – but it’s all about seeing the way the jigsaw slots together. The trailer has given you the corner and edge pieces, but it’s not until you’ve done the whole 5000 that you can see and appreciate what he’s achieved. And boy oh boy what a ride it is.
A good 90 percent of the film is high-speed vehicular carnage where the cars are as big a character as the actors driving them. You’ve got the wickedly spiked dune buggy clones which steal the show in the trailer, The Gigahorse, a pair of 1959 de Villes mounted on top of each other, even some homages to previous Mad Max titles with a re-appropriated Interceptor, a 70s Valiant and a twist on Mack from Mad Max 2.
George Miller’s work has always been about pushing things to new peaks, accelerating (forgive the pun) the development of new methods. He shies away from that a little in Fury Road – a lot of the shots are more “traditional” but even that phrase is something of a misnomer given Miller set the standard for some of those iconic shots we expect in chases nowadays – side mounted cameras and the like.
Another part of Miller’s essence comes to the fore in Fury Road in Charlize Theron’s character Imperator Furiosa – a strong non-romantic female lead. While this film may have Max’s name on the poster, it’s largely Furiosa’s show. She knicks off with the big bad guy’s harem, piloting a big rig across the desert in search of the memory of an idyllic paradise where they’ll be safe from harm.
But along the way she does a lot of ass-kicking and racks up a pretty sweet kill-death ratio as she takes out a tonne of the vehicles sent to return the bad dude’s brides.
And then there’s the interesting story of the War Boys. A fanatical cult-like group, the War Boys worship prime big bad guy Immortan Joe (played by the same dude who was Mad Max’s prime big bad guy, Toecutter, 36 years ago). Their main conduit throughout the film is Nux, who is on death’s door when we first meet him and having a blood transfusion with Max. He takes on a role as a secondary character, but is as much a part of the overall movie as Furiosa and Max.
Somewhat disappointing was the lack of development of Immortan Joe and his counterparts from the appropriately named Bullet Farm and Gastown, who head the pack chasing our fugitives. Joe’s motive (rescuing the women he claims ownership of) is clear – but his backstory isn’t really sufficiently explained in any capacity which fleshes him out to be anything but a forboding figure. Less clear is the reason the leaders of the other two groups continue to pursue Max and his group even as their losses stack higher and higher.
The soundtrack in this film is phenomenal. It ratchets up the tension and drama in all the right places, mostly just with the use of taiko drums and electric guitar, and it all fits in seamlessly thanks to the forsight of Miller to include the aptly-named “Doof Wagon” – essentially a Big Day Out side-stage mounted on the top of a supercharged V8 truck which plays music to pump up the War Boys in the heat of battle.
It’s superbly done, especially during the climatic fight scene where some choice choreography syncs up with the music for a long, long period of time.
Fury Road delivers on so much promise, in so many ways, and is a truly beautiful and fantastic film.