Thursday, 14 May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road: Film Review

Mad Max: Fury Road: Film Review

Cast: Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Charlize Theron
Director: George Miller

"All this for a family squabble"

It's a phrase tossed off the lips of one lunatic in Mad Max which says so much about George Miller's return 30 years later to the post-apocalyptic world he made so iconic with Mel Gibson around 36 years ago.

Mad Max Fury Road is nothing short of a visually nihilistic spectacle; it's a world where hope as a commodity is as rare as oil and the rain in the blisteringly violent deserts that blow all around.

Tom Hardy stars as Max Rockatansky, a man haunted by the fact he couldn't save his wife and daughter and by visions of his child (a nod back to the originals). As the film starts, Max is captured by the heavily radiated white-skinned War Boys and hooked up to the sick as a human blood bag (this film is about as pro-blood transfusions as any health commercial could be).

But Max finds himself front and centre of an epic chase when Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron, the buzz-cutted, bionic armed heart and soul of the movie) deviates from a supply run and trade deal, angering the bloated leader of the post-apocalyptic cult of deviants, Immortan Joe (played by Toecutter from the first film, Hugh Keays-Byrne).

So Joe and his gang of misfits set out on a major chase and to unleash Carmageddon on the unbelievers as well as to try and reclaim Furiosa's secret cargo.

Mad Max Fury Road is light on plot, but high on visual insanity.

In fact, it's the lack of plot and near lack of dialogue at the start that convinces you this extreme road movie and video-game style plotting will challenge some who are not on board with the cine-visual meltdown mania of a barking mad director cum visionary Miller.

And for key character (Nicholas Hoult's religious zealot Nux who's desperate for entry to Valhalla in among the vehicular madness) the absence of development means one plot point jars quite badly midway through the piece, a mis-step from Miller who clearly had his eye on the action, rather than those swirling around the unfolding visual carnage.

It is the unrelenting destruction that stands out first and foremost in Mad Max Fury Road - the blistering soundtrack leaves your ears bleeding after the initial first 40 minutes of adrenaline-fuelled highly visceral and carefully orchestrated chaos is unleashed.

Thankfully, the movie slows giving you a chance to adjust and your ears a chance to recover, but it's a brief respite before the action ramps up once again. In those brief moments, Hardy's near-mute Max remains the calm in the storm, handing the emotion and heart to Theron to handle, which she does with a great degree of aplomb.

Looking like Slipknot meshed with Priscilla Queen of the Desert and crossed with Duran Duran's Wild Boys video, the visuals of Mad Max Fury Road are everything and stand tribute to Miller's clear and dedicated vision. Cars with spikes that look like motorised porcupines, bikers with inhabitants that look like they've cosplayed bedouins and Tusken raiders, a truck stacked with amps and a deranged guitarist all create the aesthetics of a world gone mad where chaos rules supreme.

The stunt work and brutal fights raise the bar for blockbuster expectations as this extended car chase plays out, and it's great to see a New Zealand stunt team had a hand in ensuring the vision comes to life. It certainly benefits from being stripped of CGI with live-action favoured in a way that would shame the Fast and The Furious series.

A madcap cinematic orgy of balls-out action, Mad Max: Fury Road stands alone as something visually incredible and completely epic; while the story and characters for the most part, don't hold up to repeated scrutiny, you can't help but salute Miller for what he's achieved.

With furious sound and visual bluster, Mad Max Fury Road is an atmospheric road well worth travelling - even though there are a few bumps along the way.

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