Director: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
In a world gone mad, humanity is “reduced to a single instinct: survive”. The long-awaited Mad Max is finally here and it is nothing short of phenomenal. From the vert start to the fantastic final moments, Mad Max: Fury Road never eases off the throttle, brutishly exploding with a high-octane force that could only be described as ferocious.
The sheer scale of Fury Road is immense. Post-apocalytic structures breathe with rusty splendour and near-panoramic wide angles reveal the vast magnificence of the stark desert plains. Skyscraping dust storms extend into the heavens, ripping apart the ground beneath them with lighting filled tornados. Monstrous vehicles furiously surge across towering sand dunes, spewing flames and accelerating with deafening roars. The shameless majesty of it is simultaneously breath-taking, mind-blowing and awe-inspiring, particularly if you’re willing and able to catch it in IMAX. The sun-baked colour palette only strays from “50 Shades of Orange/Brown” to indulge in richly glowing blues, shining with a gorgeous contrast.
Shot with frantic energy and edited to match, Fury Road’s relentless chases sequences still manage to retain a refreshing clarity, and though potentially jarring at first, you quickly become accustomed to the frenzied action movement. George Miller praises rowdy might of the V8 with the same fervour of Fury Road’s crazed bad-guys, revelling in punctuating glimpses of whizzing drive belts and thirsty air intakes. The need for speed extends to the human damage with Miller sparingly reserves blood and gore for impactful feature kills, leaving most enemies to be simply hurled into the endless dust at fatal velocities. It feels like someone took a certain Vin Diesel franchise and exposed it to nuclear testing, leaving it to mutate into a stylishly oil-stained and unashamedly demented petrolhead-Frankenstein.
Junkie XL’s score pumps and builds with percussive rage, the music complementing the visuals with a raw and pure synergy. Crescendos swell powerfully before dropping climatically into still silence and a darkness that borders on panic-induced, while searing string pieces give fiery weight to emotional high-points. “Messa da Reqiuem” (the track featured in the trailers) is used as a bombardment weapon, particularly effective when warbled synth passes and electronic noise breaks are pushed into the mix alongside Verdi’s classic.
While its contraptions and vehicles drop delicate intricacy in favour of iron-clad bulk, Fury Road’s narrative is impressively strong as Miller succinctly plays with themes of religion, indoctrination, slavery and insanity. The recent “controversy” regarding its dominant feminist message – something that’s definitely present but not overbearing, as certain “activists” would have you believe – only goes to show that this is a film with something to say. Don’t forget that these messages are presented during a gripping 2-hour period almost entirely consisting of trucks, cars and motorcycles battling it out, no subtextual message can take that gleefully brutal magic away.
Tom Hardy’s Max commands a forceful presence with few words, mostly relying on neanderthal grunting and unhinged mumbles to communicate. Max’s madnesses, namely his demonic visions of a haunting past, are less-than-subtle in their presentation but fit perfectly into the crazed tone of the film. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult both give outstanding performances, displaying brave strength and human vulnerability with fitting style. The character design of Fury Road is only second to its incredible world-building and conceptual realisation. The colonies, machines, mechanisms and tribal structures of the wasteland are as equally spectacular as the painted skin, scarred faces and gnarled bodies of its inhabitants.
Mad Max: Fury Road is the kind of film that makes you want to see it twice at the cinema, pre-order the Blu-Ray, buy the soundtrack and eagerly await news of the sequel. It’s a glorious exhibition in how to add real substance to forceful and adrenaline-filled style, with sublime moments of carnage accompanied by vigorous audio and expert performances. George Miller has truly earned the title of mastermind.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
5 out of 5 stars
Written by James Excell
Mad Max: Fury Road is on wide release in UK and US cinemas now!