Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mastermind: George Miller
Writers:        George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris
Cast:             Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult

In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

So, in the fourth installment of the franchise, Max is captured and ends up as a universal blood donor prisoner of the dictator/Godman Immortan Joe. His blood is used by Kamikaze soldiers who always talk about Valhalla and greets death with glee which kind of makes them Jihadists of sorts. Joes's place is called Citadel that contains a water source which the Lord controls and markets as Aqua Cola. Furiosa smuggles the young wives of the dictator on a supply run during which she takes a detour to her homeland called Green Place. All hell breaks loose and Joe and his entire band of soldiers, with his metal band  featuring a fire breathing guitar/ist, chase them and the film is just that- a very long chase and maybe they should have called it Mad Max: There and Back Again. During the chase, Max ends up in Furiosa's war rig and at first they don't trust each other but eventually becomes a team along with Max's blood recipient Nux (Nicholas Hoult). 

Film is two hours long which makes it about 30 minutes longer than other Mad Max films. It is in 3D, of which I am not a fan, but it didn't bother me much. There are some scenes which makes you flinch covering your face with hands. I wish it was a bit less dark so that I could enjoy fully the Namibian desert where they shot the film. It is the best of what you expect from a Mad Max film and leave you with giddy smiles plenty of times during the film. Charlize Theron is really the lead of the film, with it having a feminist approach, and that is a breath of fresh air when you put it in context with other shitty action films from recent times where the role of female character is often  restricted to being an eye-candy damsel in distress. Charlize Theron is almost unrecognizable with her military hairstyle and Tom Hardy is fantastic as Mad Max with him giving his own interpretation for the role rather than aping Mel Gibson. 

What I found great about Mad Max 2 (Road Warrior) and Mad Max 3 (Beyond the Thunderdome) were the presence of very morally ambiguous villains and in second one we cannot really call them villains even. That is not the case in Fury Road with Immorten Joe being a ruthless dictator but his followers are more like misguided followers. The action sequences are just insane and it was done apparently done with minimal usage of CGI. That is essential for you to actually enjoy the action since you know that some actual physical effort was put into the whole thing. At the end of the grueling shoot, they had 450 hours of footage and it took 6000 hours of editing to come up with the final cut. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron were at loggerheads during the shoot and the former was also unhappy with Miller as how the film would end up was not something that Miller could explain properly. But it seems everyone is happy with the end product and it is getting universal acclaim. One minor complaint would be that they changed the side of the steering wheel so as not to spook the American audience.

Overall it a fantastic action film and please don't miss it out during its theatrical run. George Miller is now 70 and he had directed films like Happy Feet during the time period between Thunderdome and Fury Road. It is good to see him back in the action genre putting younger generation directors in their place. (Trivia: After George Miller screened some footage at SXSW film festival, a man stood up and asked: "How the hell did you film that!?" That man was none other than director Robert Rodriguez.) It is as good as Mad Max: The Road Warrior, but I still consider Road Warrior as my favorite out of the lot since it is much more balanced. The first Mad Max film has not aged very gracefully while the third one is a good watch without being great. You don't really need to watch previous ones to enjoy Fury Road and a peek at the trailer would suffice to prepare yourself for what is to come.

Rating: 4.5/5