Mad Max: Fury Road was released in 2015, an action film co-written, produced, and directed by George Miller, alongside the assists with Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris for the screenplay, the film acts as the fourth installment in the Mad Max franchise and a reboot of the series overall. A post-apocalyptic adventure bolstered by chaos-driven trailers, I was excited for the film without having seen its predecessors, which starred Mel Gibson in the titular role. The film received critical acclaim from critics, but was, at best, a modest success at the box-office, unable to fully recoup its marketing and production budget through movie tickets alone. Winning six Academy Awards, the Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron fronted film has undoubtedly left an impression on moviegoers and critics alike, but is the film worth all the enthusiasm from those who’ve seen it, or is the box-office returns a sign of its limited, niche appeal?
Mad Max: Fury Road is set in a desert wasteland where resources are scarce, “aqua cola” is what cult leader Immortan Joe markets water as, controlling everything he can using his followers. Furiosa, played by Theron, frees Joe’s wives, who were being treated like cattle, impregnated and imprisoned, then, with an armored tanker truck, tries to flee to a sanctuary aptly named “The Green Place”. Through the chain of events, Max, a crazed fellow having his blood siphoned off by a sickly War Boy called Nux, comes in-contact with Furiosa, and eventually builds an alliance with her. The film mostly focuses on the large road-battle as they try to escape from Immortan Joe and his army’s pursuit.
I’ve heard descriptions about this film after its release, detractors referring to it as one big, elongated and mindless car-chase scene turned into a feature length film. The issue I have with the detractors is the belief that is inherently an insult.
Although this film isn’t bolstered by fully realized and fleshed out characters, it is bolstered by a very realized and intriguing atmosphere. The stylization and cinematography, bolstered by the dramatic use of its scenery and its energetic implementation of special-effects and music. The elaborate set-pieces and the oddities and eccentricities found in its depictions.
Max or Furiosa are competent characters that serve their purpose commendably. Max’s role feels practically as though it’s meant to accomplish a “template” of a character, an un-stabled character unhinged enough to fit into the world but enough of an everyman plainness to insert yourself into its world. Furiosa, on the other-hand, is the emotional substance, and although I would say Charlize Theron’s performance is the best in the film, I do think the emotional substance is only necessary in story-progression, and I found myself more enthralled by the action and spectacle.
The film isn’t bogged down by a lot of exposition. Instead, it opts for a certain mystique and settles firmly for having the viewer’s slightly befuddled attention. Although you’ll find a lot of breadcrumbs to comfortably understand the film as it unfolds, it feels spoon-fed and not shoved down your throat. The world has gone belly-up, and now, mayhem ensues. The film’s mission-statement really does feel encapsulated in a line Max says in the film, that everything has been condensed down into one singular instinct: survival.
What allows such a basic-concept to flourish, however, is the balls-to-the-wall action-sequences and adrenaline-fueled insanity that occurs throughout. Whether it be a man shooting flames out of his guitar while jamming out throughout the film or the visual of an engulfing sand-storm, the film feels like George Miller was given carte blanche to craft the craziest film you could think of, and I feel it’s the film I’ve always wanted so many other films to be.
The production-value on most levels, be it the musical score or some of the beautifully-crafted shots spread through the film, operates on high-cylinder, but I imagine many will opt against crediting this film on all it achieves. It goes back to what I said about it being insulting to call a film a “car-chase scene,” because I think how many measure their overall value of a film is in-regards to what it makes them feel. Oftentimes, I think many genres go to the wayside in favor of more dramatic, serious films, with the belief being they are more substantial because they make you feel more emotionally invested. I think we oftentimes limit ourselves, forgetting the sheer fun of Mad Max, does in-fact instill in us an emotional investment.
I’ve been a writer for years and I’ve written many novels, many of which are action-oriented. What Mad Max: Fury Road accomplishes is chaos and action in its highest form, executed at a high-standard, with a fleshed-out world and brilliant world-design. When I write an action fantasy, how I felt while watching Mad Max: Fury Road, is a best-case scenario for how I’d love to make somebody else feel. I loved the film, and it feels like I’m more enthusiastic than ever about the film, even after my third watch. I’d highly recommend it.