Mad Max is every bit as ferocious as the critics are sayingBy Editor
As Mad Max: Fury Road hits cinemas nationwide today, you could say it's been a long road to reach this destination. A fury road, so to speak. Superfluous puns aside, you could argue that this film didn't really need to be made. It's been 30 years since the last installment and many critics were wondering if director George Miller still had the bite of his previous years - his last directorial feature was Happy Feet Two.
But there's no point dallying around the subject. Let's get straight to the point: does it do its original and sequel (let's ignore Thunderdome) proud? Yes, by a long way.
Set in the familiar setting of post-apocalyptic Australia, the movie gets going from the off; our anti-hero Max has been attacked and captured by 'the War Boys', a legion dedicated to their ruler: Immortan Joe. He is used as a blood donor for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), an ill War Boy. As this is happening, Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a trusted commander, steals Joe's Five Wives and plans to head to her hometown that she promises is a land of green. When Joe becomes aware of this he sets out to claim them back, especially the 'Splendid Angharad' - a spouse who's pregnant with his child. A chase ensues, leading to a linkup between Max and the Five Wives.
Visually speaking, it is not hyperbolic to say that it is one of the best looking action films that has been made in years. This was no accident, however, as Miller enlisted the help of five artists to create close to 3,500 frames of storyboard. In addition, the location of Namibia was used to emulate the barren landscape that characterised the original films; though he tasked his cinematographer with teasing out any trace of beauty he could. The result is a bleak yet captivating environment that helps accentuate the zaniness of the characters.
Lovers of a good old hot pursuit will be glad to know that the film is, for the most part, a chase scene. But that needn't worry anyone who feels unnerved by this concept; the end result is far from tedious. Instead, it’s a string of dazzling set pieces that involve many impressive-looking vehicles. These automobiles all serve an aesthetic purpose, as well. These include tanks, spiked ‘Buzzards’, the Ford Falcon from the original series and finally, the 'Doof Wagon' - a truck kitted out with myriad amps and a guitarist who sort of soundtracks the conflict.
Those looking for moments of wordy dialogue will have to look elsewhere, though; Tarantino this ain't. Instead, chunks of speech are lightly sprinkled over the course of the film, and body language seems to be more operative. This explains the use of Tom Hardy as Max, an actor who can say a million things with just a few muscle movements in his face, which made him perfect for the role as he essentially grunts his lines anyway.
Last and by no means least, very special mention also has to go to Furiosa and the Five Wives who add a heady injection of pluck and emotion - the latter being something that is lacking, at least in an overt way, in Max. Really, the film is about the female characters that literally and figuratively drive the film. Max is really just hitching a ride.
It's big, it's loud and never lets it foot off the gas. If someone were to tell me that the 70-year-old director of Babe had created one of the most intense, explosive and outright wacky films in recent times I would have laughed it off. It’s strange that by employing traditional stunt techniques (only 10% of the film is CGI), feels so fresh. It appears that Miller is showing the young movers and shakers up.