14th May2015

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Review

by Mark Allen

Stars: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton | Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris | Directed by George Miller


Come on: you don’t need me to tell you that Fury Road is the best thing since sliced bread, surely? You’ve seen all the five-star reviews and hyperbolic quotes and, well, you have to have seen the trailers by now. If you weren’t already dying to see George Miller and his most iconic creation (well, other than those dancing penguins, I guess) make their triumphant return to the genre they pretty much single-handedly created and you clicked on this review? Well, I’m not sure I’m going to say anything that’ll change your mind. For those of you looking for another acolyte to the cult of insanity Mad Max: Fury Road has whipped up to tell them what they already know in their heart of hearts to be true: you’re in for one hell of a treat.

The gist of the movie is this: Max (Tom Hardy), Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and a rogue’s gallery of incredible women kill the patriarchy, via the age-old method of startlingly over-the-top violence during the course of a feature-length car chase. One that’s instigated by Furiosa stealing – but, really, liberating – a disgusting old tyrant’s prized sex slaves. Oh, and Nicholas Hoult is convincing as an action movie star for the first time ever. Which is a nice surprise.

Seriously, that’s all I’m giving you plot-wise. Fury Road is not something that’s best referred to verbally; the closest I can get to conveying the way it made me feel with my puny voice is with a primal scream. Righteous anger and joyful insanity – that’s what this movie does to you. Even though the violence feels bone-crunchingly authentic (while simultaneously managing to cram into each shot all the visual flair of the best comic books); even though you fear for the safety of the characters every second they’re on screen; and even though there may be no hope left in this barren caricature of a world, you can’t help but root for the heroes to make it and shriek with approval every time one of their hateful enemies every time they’re crushed under the wheels of a steel juggernaut. Of which there are a lot (both vehicle-related deaths and lambs for the slaughter). And I mean A LOT.

You might imagine that legacy is a problem that plagues Fury Road, but not in the way you might think. Instead of being haunted by the spectre of previous, possibly far better films and Mel Gibson (a terrifying prospect indeed), Miller presents us with characters who long for places and people from their past that they will never be able to reclaim. Hardy’s Max is plagued by expressionistic hallucinations of people he’s failed to save or left behind in his long years on the road, and his skittery, paranoid performance speaks volumes more about his character’s past than his tongue ever does. The talking is left up to Furiosa who, despite being burdened with the lion’s share of the exposition is no less empathetic for it. She’s been been backed into one too many corners throughout her life and is now determined to take control of hers and offer that chance to the women under her care.

Not that they need all that much taking care of, mind. Each of Immortan Joe’s former concubines – played by supermodels, teen actresses and the descendants of rock stars – prove to be far more than the set dressing they might have been in a lesser barbaric action film. Each proves their mettle in a fight time and again while remaining the beating heart of the story – they’re the hope that Furiosa will fight tooth and nail to protect, and it’s all the more powerful to acknowledge their innocent desire to live without having to kill in this world, considering the horrors they’ve had to live through.

In relation to Furiosa and her girls, Max is really just a blunt instrument to be used against their pursuers, and he accedes to this role with (relative) humility time and again. He knows his place, as does Hux (Nicholas Hoult), the other male hero: they’re violent men, and while they can be aimed at someone bad to cause some good, they’ve no real place in a society that wants to move beyond that way of life. The film acknowledges this in simultaneously blindingly obvious and surprisingly subtle ways, resulting in a hugely welcome and refreshing view on gender – one almost unheard of in big-budget action movies – that, like much of the rest of Fury Road, makes you want to scream, “FUCK YEAH!”

Mad Max: Fury Road is out at cinemas today.


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