When you first see the trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road it is quoted as “from mastermind George Miller.” I saw that as an overstatement. The first three Mad Max movies were unfortunately too old and too outdated for me to marvel at its true greatness. Now after viewing Fury Road, the term “mastermind” may come off as an understatement for Miller. Fury Road is an example of a perfect action movie that directors should look up to, or blueprint for the future. This film is a highly kinetic symphony of violence.
Miller throws you quickly into the mix with Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), an ex-policeman who has become a master survivalist due to an apocalyptic event. He is also a victim of extremely bad PTSD caused be his failure to save his family. Throughout the film we witness Max endure painful flashbacks of his daughter. Max is captured by the War Boys, an army of pale-bodied, bald psychopaths, led by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays Byrne). Joe and the War Boys reside in The Citadel, an oasis-like land where Joe torments his inhabitants by deliberately holding out the water supply and draining blood from misfits into sick War Boys, most notably Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a young War Boy eager to please Immortan Joe.
In the citadel, we are introduced to Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who drives a super charged rig to collect gasoline. Hidden in the rig are Immortan Joe’s breeders who are called “The Five Wives” (Rosie Huntington Whitley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton). They plan to escape Joe’s tyranny and their hands lie in the fate of Furiosa. The two plots collide creating a beautiful chaos in the desert.
It is incredible to see what Miller does with modern day technology. The majority of the movie is filmed moving, with the rig being shot at, human bodies being propelled in the air to capture the wives and Max using his quick wit and instinct to do what it takes to survive another day.
Hardy’s take on Max is different from Mel Gibson’s. Both performances are extremely natural. Whilst Gibson’s portrayal of Max was quiet with a reluctant charm, what we get from Hardy is the strong, silent type. Something that Hardy is preternaturally adept at. The strong, silent type of actor is from a bygone era, and Tom Hardy is the last actor to effortlessly harness that style. Those winces, the grunts, and the eye language, are something that have turned into a trademark and its at its peak form in Fury Road.
While Tom Hardy’s “Max” may serve as the soul of the film, Charlize Theron’s “Furiosa” works as the ever-beating heart. Furiosa is the ultimate heroine. A bald, muscular, one-armed maverick, endlessly determined to finish her job. Though Max may be silent and conscious, Furiosa is the real emotional connection of the movie. The dialogue between the two is incredibly minimal but they either have you smiling or chest palpitating, awaiting to see what happens next.
The two characters give viewers a break after the set pieces but the true star of the movie is George Miller’s directing. I have never seen a movie edited so brilliantly. Miller mentions on multiple interviews that the action and the stunts were very practical. Practical they may be, but the execution was flawless. It was like witnessing a circus or a carnival on wheels, on the backdrop of a desert, suffocating on diesel fumes. All harmoniously flowing through Junkie XL’s primal, earthy score. I was in absolute awe with all of the set pieces, a sensory overload that I doubt will never be matched unless Miller outmatches himself. Mad Max: Fury Road is a dream come true for action purists.