Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

Ooooh, reboots. Risky business, right? A lot of people have a strong link to old franchises like Mad Max and to reboot them could go either way. But here, you’re in good hands. George Miller, writer-director of the original Mad Max trilogy, reboots his own franchise with a new story and new characters – except Max, of course – and brings us a stunning new addition to the saga.

 Out now on DVD, Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray 3D comes Mad Max: Fury Road. It isn’t really mate explicitly clear if this is a sequel to the original trilogy, or a fresh start, or somewhere in the middle. But in any case, it stands perfectly well on its own with some lovely references to the original films littered throughout. Tom Hardy takes over the iconic character after original Max Mel Gibson gave his blessing, but it’s debatable whether Max is necessarily the main character here. Fury Road tells the story of Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman who rebels against a tyrannical ruler (Hugh Keays-Byrne, the same actor who played Toecutter in the original) in post-apocalyptic Australia in search for her homeland with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper (a brilliant Nicholas Hoult) and Max himself. Cue countless car chases, explosions, fights, guns and cars getting smashed up…to the point of just being tedious. 

Let’s get the negative out of the way early. Calm down, fanboys and fangirls. I won’t be too mean. Now don’t get me wrong, Fury Road is a phenomenally well-made film. Each action sequence is masterfully done, with very little CGI being used throughout and instead a huge focus on old-school practical effects. The first 30 minutes are unlike anything you’ve ever seen in action cinema, particularly when viewing the brilliant 3D version. But it grows tiresome soon after, and as the film clocks in at just shy of 2 hours, it’s an exhausting watch. I know, it’s an action film. But unfortunately, what we may have here is a strong example of style-over-substance. There are many ways to analyse the film and many have theorised a feminist agenda, as well as strong themes of survival and redemption. But the majority of viewers won’t notice that, as these themes (and what little plot the film has) are hidden under the constant over-the-top action sequences and visual iconography like that chap playing a flame-throwing electric guitar. Yeah, we get it, how very cool. Maybe I’m just a grumpy sod, but for me the comic book-esque action and iconography was just a little much.

Regardless, it’s not all bad. Those of you who follow my writing (hi, mum!) will know I love some strong visuals. The look of a film can make or break it. Luckily, the visuals of Fury Road are absolutely incredible. Even in the quiet moments between car chases and explosions, the cinematography and colour palette are stunning. Fury Road is one of the most visually breath-taking experiences I’ve had with a film in a long time, made even better by the strong and effective 3D. Despite being post-apocalyptic, there are some very vibrant colours and beautiful locations throughout – something director George Miller found extremely important when creating the film. Miller reasoned that people living in the post apocalypse would try to find whatever scraps of beauty they could in what was left of the world, but he also wanted to differentiate the film from the countless other post-apocalyptic films coming out of Hollywood these days. And he was right to think that, because thanks to the visuals alone, Fury Road certainly stands out. The cast are all excellent too, with Hardy and Theron delivering fine performances - and particular praise goes to delightfully unhinged Nicholas Hoult, one of the highlights of the film and the character behind the highly quotable ‘what a lovely day!’.

Fury Road is a bloody good film and if you’re in the right mood for it, I can imagine it seeming like the best film ever made. Maybe with a few beers and some friends, you could have an amazing night in with it. If you like over-the-top action, Fury Road will probably be the best thing you’ve ever seen. At the end of the day, despite the lacking plot and the debatable fan theories/analysis, it’s just an action film and as that, it succeeds admirably. Just don’t expect much more than bang bang bang, crash crash crash, boom boom boom. And if you’re tired? Watch something else. Because Mad Max: Fury Road is bloody exhausting.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a stunning addition to the Mad Max saga and, despite a lack of any real depth or substance, a solid action film. 4/5.


Sam Love

Mad Max: Fury Road at CeX

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