Mad Max: Fury Road

Best film EVER. Deal with it.


Mad Max: Fury Road

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
Directed by: George Miller

Consensus: 5 Stars
The Elite League


Rated

R

Starring

Tom Hardy
Charlize Theron
Nicholas Hoult
Hugh Keays-Byrne
Zoë Kravitz
Rosie Huntington-Whitley

Written by

George Miller
Brendan McCarthy
Nick Lathouris

Directed by

George Miller


What to Expect

There are films that are quite easy to talk about. You know – through most of the crevices of its narratives – what’s good and what’s bad within them all. Then come the films, after a viewing of which you’re left with so much to say, but little to begin with, save for the already relentless excitement burgeoning within every corner of your heart, mind and soul.

Max Max: Fury Road – the fourth entrant in an already well-revered franchise that’s explored the varied dynamics of the “wasteland” that’s become a rather invisible character to it all – for me, has strongly become the latter. For though the inner crevices of my head would want me to let loose and type this piece in the most disarrayed way possible in getting the emotional energy I’ve attached to the film right, I’ve been battling to begin in the calmest way possible.

But when I look back at the franchise, I can only connect it to similar feelings of unstoppable energy and undying curiosity the first trilogy produced within the audience. Gibson’s portrayal of Max Rockatansky is – for better or worse – definitely considered to be an example to those who’ve attempted to cover the angry-young-protagonist-in-a-ruined-world trope every now and then. If you take it all superficially thus, then Fury Road looks like the perfect card played by the studios to cash in on an extremely popular world – for worse more than for the better.

I am a water baby.

I am a water baby.

Here’s the thing though: Miller – who had his first rendezvous with the idea of this part on a flight to Sydney from Los Angeles once upon a time – claims he didn’t know that the idea, which “kept popping up and wouldn’t go away,” according to an interview with a popular newspaper reporter, would take as long as twelve years to see fruition. Having been in development hell due to the weather, and then due to Gibson, among others, it almost felt like the movie would never ever get there. Miller moved on to Happy Feet, and Gibson was – well – being Gibson.

And almost as the madness turned into a possibly never-ending lull, Tom Hardy was reportedly roped in. And the rest – as you’d see, right from some of the most brilliantly produced theatrical promos in possibly a while now, to the insane discussions on why the new installment should (and shouldn’t) be supported – is history.

What’s it About?

Lone survivor Max (Tom Hardy; Locke) is caught by a cultist “lord” – Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne; Mad Max), and escapes – only to run into Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron; Monster), who’s out for hope of peaceful survival in a land that’s extremely desolate and ruinous.

Anything more, and I’ll have written a spoiler-filled, two-page long description of the entire film.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

One of the biggest trump cards of the Mad Max franchise is this: anything goes. The world our titular protagonist lives in is a harsh, uncivilized world without rules, where the only thing you’re needed to do is live by the second. The magnitude of insanity thus, through it all, has made for an extremely unpredictable set of films that, despite their lack of the “expected” pace or dialogue, always has had something incredibly unexpected up their sleeve. Now, one of the biggest drawbacks through the initial Gibson-helmed trilogy was the extreme lack of the required budget to achieve the requisite levels of insanity. Of course, that doesn’t leave anyone to blame, but there is – and will be – that. Funnily enough, the pre-movie watching skepticism also rears its head through the fact that the bigger the budget on a director, the stronger the metaphorical noose of tropes on him. And then there’s the classic loyalty-to-the-trilogy judgment that has been passed every now and then.

But what if I were to tell you that Mad Max: Fury Road is possibly the best action film you’ll ever have seen – and will probably see – in the longest while now?

Because it is. And then some.

You wanna get through this? Do as I say.

“You wanna get through this? Do as I say.”

The film begins with a long, gloriously desolate wide shot, allowing us to breathe in the atmosphere, whilst also warning us through its impeccably classic sound-design that things aren’t going to be as quiet as they are. The moment the wheels start rolling, however, you’re in a roller-coaster ride that only promises to get as insane as it can get. Taken over almost by the terrific edit by Margaret Sixel (Happy Feet) and Jason Ballantine (The Great Gatsby), the movie doesn’t dare allow you to breathe for a single minute. Ballantine’s trademarks of speeding up on impact camera crashes – an act that’s been seen since he was first assistant editor to Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! – can most definitely be noticed, and work dizzyingly well here. Add to that the breathlessly quick cuts that push through, be it through forms of harrowingly broken flashbacks, or the establishing of a certain character’s extreme insanity (“Oh what a day! What a LOVELY day!”), and you’re left with no time to spare.

Thankfully enough, the action here is beautifully delivered, with the composed edit decisions perfectly complementing the wide canvas John Seale (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time) captures through his direction of the moving photography through the film’s runtime. Right from the chases to the minimal combats, there’s a lot of extremely focussed, steady movement that gives the film a certain grit you wouldn’t normally expect from a dystopian action-thriller film. Not a single shot in the film looks out of place. Attention to detail is placed with each and every aspect of the film’s production design, where almost every simplistic prop in the the first trilogy gets a wider, morbidly beautiful canvas to play around with. Be it with costume design (which doesn’t stick to let’s-throw-in-everything-leather), props (vehicles, weapons, souvenirs et al) or art direction you’ve got yourself a world that’s insanely raw and gritty, and surprisingly exuberant in its own world’s authentic realism. And let’s not forget Tom “Junkie XL” Holkenborg’s exceedingly passionate score that ably walks side-by-side with the visuals, like the meeting of yin and yang. For all you need to know, the writing of this rather (justifiably) overlong piece has been given immense support through the melange of the orchestrated and the electronic.

But through its execution of its gorgeous sandstorms, its mesmerizing explosions and its jaw-dropping death-defiance, you’re reminded of the one person who is positively responsible of it all: George Miller. For all of what he could have risked out, and with films like Happy Feet Two allowing for skepticism to justifiably rise, he is in extremely fabulous form. It is an extremely risky (and thus rare) task for anyone to take on a mainstream film without any exposition. And now – more than three-and-a-half decades since the release of the film that started all the madness we’ve come to know of the dystopian wasteland – you’re able to witness that he couldn’t have been surer than he seems with this film, of all the films in the franchise. Dare I say that this is not just the best action film this year, this is also the best movie of the whole franchise, beating out all the other Mad Max films by a mile and a half, both in style, content and emotion. For all the insane, over-the-top character traits of all the characters you could have seen, you’re able to see a fair amount of establishments within Rockatansky and Furiosa you can stick with till the wee end of the franchise. There’s always been a tense sense of unstoppable energy with all the Max films Miller’s made, but within the mind-blowing breathlessness he’s also delivered what you’d never expect out of any character in the film: emotion, with a dash of unexpected humor Your reaction to the humor, however, totally depends on how dropped your jaw would be throughout the runtime.

Nicholas Hoult - Mad Max: Fury Road

“Witness me!”

Be it with Hoult’s Nux, or each of Immortan Joe’s wives, there’s a certain depth to each character. And flimsy as they may look, there’s always a fun symbol hidden around there. Fascinatingly, the women in this film are more than just one-note characters. They’re fascinating character studies – filled with the right amount of focus, survival instinct, power and vulnerability – even if some of them appear for a short while. Within a world that reeks of dark desolation through its shining daylight, every reaction needs to have been emotionally authentic; and emotionally authentic it definitely is.

One of the very pressing topics that I’ve come to be peeved with is how the apparent overpowering feminism of Mad Max would break the franchise. Ultimately, however, the movie cannot – and might I repeat, cannot – be bracketed as either matriarchal or patriarchal; bracketing it would be akin to bracketing Birdman as solely a life-of-a-passionate-playwright film when it definitely was so much more than that. The movie covers multiple raging topics like the dangers of religious cultism, the presence of surprising sanity within the apparent insanity and the perils of standing out as an honorable human being in a world that’s stuck in a morbidly shameless societal cycle, among which the never-ending oppressions on the women being a part of a patriarchal society is but an equally nominal part of the many silent commentaries he passes in through all that ever-ravishing mayhem. Judging the quality of a film due to its inclusion of an actor (Edge of Tomorrow), or putting a film down in one’s desperate need to achieve some personal vendetta are rather shameful acts committed on otherwise extremely strong films, so let’s make sure we don’t do that to this one now, shall we?

To Perform or Not to Perform

Tom Hardy - Mad Max: Fury Road

BOOM!

Gibson might have immortalized Max Rockatansky to many, but Tom Hardy pitches an equally strong performance of the role; pulling it off, and then some. Within his classic strong-silence, there’s a lot that’s spoken through nothing but body language. The equation he shares with Theron’s Furiosa isn’t clunky, and progresses smoothly and surprisingly realistically for all the immense insanity surrounding them. Theron herself is excellently cast, pulling off the role with the confidence of having the experience of being Furiosa herself. Hugh Keays-Byrne plays the overpowering antagonist with the utmost devilish glee, sinking his teeth into the role like no other. And then there’s Nicholas Hoult’s terrific Nux. Having pulled off a zombie-with-a-heart and an accidental mutant with surprising effortlessness prior, this only adds up to yet another role he manages to shine in, bright as the sun. Zoë Kravitz doesn’t have a lot to do, but when she does, she does it right. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has yet another – relatively small – role that still surprisingly has an important part to play. And considering the English model’s last appearance in a film was the third installment of the dubiously successful Transformers franchise, one can safely say this is definitely a shocking career upgrade by leaps and bounds. Riley Keough (Magic Mike) contributes to an extremely warm, understanding presence as the aptly named Capable, always ready to see both sides of the coin. Basically, everyone’s perfect in all their splendor. Can’t see no wrong, won’t see no wrong.

Worth it?

The problem I’m seeing with this film’s likability/lovability/obsess-ability factor is how it’s completely dependent on what the audience is looking for. Hear me out, then, for if you’re not a fancier of the dangerously humorous amounts of insanity, you might not be a fan of this film. Heck, you may not have but liked any of the previous Mad Max movies either. That does not – I repeat, does NOT – change the fact that George Miller’s undying craftsmanship makes this one of the BEST action masterpieces – nay, possibly THE BEST action masterpiece – in what could probably be the last (and possibly even the coming) decade. Entertaining as hell broken loose, this one doesn’t leave out the insanity with a touch of humor; not to forget the extremely important metaphors Miller dares to speak about but subtly through this ever-so-unstoppable visual action classic.

In short, Mad Max: Fury Road is the BEST MOVIE EVER. There. I said it. Deal with it.

PS: Please, for the love of whatever higher power you believe in (or don’t) do NOT – I repeat, DO NOT – treat this movie the way Edge of Tomorrow was last year, what with the surprisingly not-as-high box-office collections. THIS MOVIE NEEDS ALL THE SUPPORT EVERYONE CAN GIVE IT!

Consensus: 5 Stars
The Elite League
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

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Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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What to Expect

There are films that are quite easy to talk about. You know – through most of the crevices of its narratives – what’s good and what’s bad within them all. Then come the films, after a viewing of which you’re left with so much to say, but little to begin with, save for the already relentless excitement burgeoning within every corner of your heart, mind and soul. Max Max: Fury Road – the fourth entrant in an already well-revered franchise that’s explored the varied dynamics of the “wasteland” that’s become a rather invisible character to it all – for me, has strongly become the latter. For though the inner crevices of my head would want me to let loose and type this piece in the most disarrayed way possible in getting the emotional energy I’ve attached to the film right, I’ve been battling to begin in the calmest way possible. But when I look back at the franchise, I can only connect it to similar feelings of unstoppable energy and undying curiosity the first trilogy produced within the audience. Gibson’s portrayal of Max Rockatansky is – for better or worse – definitely considered to be an example to those who’ve attempted to cover the angry-young-protagonist-in-a-ruined-world trope every now and then. If you take it all superficially thus, then Fury Road looks like the perfect card played by the studios to cash in on an extremely popular world – for worse more than for the better.

Here’s the thing though: Miller – who had his first rendezvous with the idea of this part on a flight to Sydney from Los Angeles once upon a time – claims he didn’t know that the idea, which “kept popping up and wouldn’t go away,” according to an interview with a popular newspaper reporter, would take as long as twelve years to see fruition. Having been in development hell due to the weather, and then due to Gibson, among others, it almost felt like the movie would never ever get there. Miller moved on to Happy Feet, and Gibson was – well – being Gibson. And almost as the madness turned into a possibly never-ending lull, Tom Hardy was reportedly roped in. And the rest – as you’d see, right from some of the most brilliantly produced theatrical promos in possibly a while now, to the insane discussions on why the new installment should (and shouldn’t) be supported – is history.

What’s it About?

Lone survivor Max (Tom Hardy; Locke) is caught by a cultist “lord” – Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne; Mad Max), and escapes – only to run into Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron; Monster), who’s out for hope of peaceful survival in a land that’s extremely desolate and ruinous. Anything more, and I’ll have written a spoiler-filled, two-page long description of the entire film.

You wanna get through this? Do as I say.

“You wanna get through this? Do as I say.”

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

One of the biggest trump cards of the Mad Max franchise is this: anything goes. The world our titular protagonist lives in is a harsh, uncivilized world without rules, where the only thing you’re needed to do is live by the second. The magnitude of insanity thus, through it all, has made for an extremely unpredictable set of films that, despite their lack of the “expected” pace or dialogue, always has had something incredibly unexpected up their sleeve. Now, one of the biggest drawbacks through the initial Gibson-helmed trilogy was the extreme lack of the required budget to achieve the requisite levels of insanity. Of course, that doesn’t leave anyone to blame, but there is – and will be – that. Funnily enough, the pre-movie watching skepticism also rears its head through the fact that the bigger the budget on a director, the stronger the metaphorical noose of tropes on him. And then there’s the classic loyalty-to-the-trilogy judgment that has been passed every now and then. But what if I were to tell you that Mad Max: Fury Road is possibly the best action film you’ll ever have seen – and will probably see – in the longest while now? Because it is. And then some.

The film begins with a long, gloriously desolate wide shot, allowing us to breathe in the atmosphere, whilst also warning us through its impeccably classic sound-design that things aren’t going to be as quiet as they are. The moment the wheels start rolling, however, you’re in a roller-coaster ride that only promises to get as insane as it can get. Taken over almost by the terrific edit by Margaret Sixel (Happy Feet) and Jason Ballantine (The Great Gatsby), the movie doesn’t dare allow you to breathe for a single minute. Ballantine’s trademarks of speeding up on impact camera crashes – an act that’s been seen since he was first assistant editor to Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! – can most definitely be noticed, and work dizzyingly well here. Add to that the breathlessly quick cuts that push through, be it through forms of harrowingly broken flashbacks, or the establishing of a certain character’s extreme insanity (“Oh what a day! What a LOVELY day!”), and you’re left with no time to spare. Thankfully enough, the action here is beautifully delivered, with the composed edit decisions perfectly complementing the wide canvas John Seale (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time) captures through his direction of the moving photography through the film’s runtime. Right from the chases to the minimal combats, there’s a lot of extremely focussed, steady movement that gives the film a certain grit you wouldn’t normally expect from a dystopian action-thriller film. Not a single shot in the film looks out of place. Attention to detail is placed with each and every aspect of the film’s production design, where almost every simplistic prop in the the first trilogy gets a wider, morbidly beautiful canvas to play around with. Be it with costume design (which doesn’t stick to let’s-throw-in-everything-leather), props (vehicles, weapons, souvenirs et al) or art direction you’ve got yourself a world that’s insanely raw and gritty, and surprisingly exuberant in its own world’s authentic realism. And let’s not forget Tom “Junkie XL” Holkenborg’s exceedingly passionate score that ably walks side-by-side with the visuals, like the meeting of yin and yang. For all you need to know, the writing of this rather (justifiably) overlong piece has been given immense support through the melange of the orchestrated and the electronic. But through its execution of its gorgeous sandstorms, its mesmerizing explosions and its jaw-dropping death-defiance, you’re reminded of the one person who is positively responsible of it all: George Miller. For all of what he could have risked out, and with films like Happy Feet Two allowing for skepticism to justifiably rise, he is in extremely fabulous form. It is an extremely risky (and thus rare) task for anyone to take on a mainstream film without any exposition. And now – more than three-and-a-half decades since the release of the film that started all the madness we’ve come to know of the dystopian wasteland – you’re able to witness that he couldn’t have been surer than he seems with this film, of all the films in the franchise. Dare I say that this is not just the best action film this year, this is also the best movie of the whole franchise, beating out all the other Mad Max films by a mile and a half, both in style, content and emotion. For all the insane, over-the-top character traits of all the characters you could have seen, you’re able to see a fair amount of establishments within Rockatansky and Furiosa you can stick with till the wee end of the franchise. There’s always been a tense sense of unstoppable energy with all the Max films Miller’s made, but within the mind-blowing breathlessness he’s also delivered what you’d never expect out of any character in the film: emotion, with a dash of unexpected humor Your reaction to the humor, however, totally depends on how dropped your jaw would be throughout the runtime.

Be it with Hoult’s Nux, or each of Immortan Joe’s wives, there’s a certain depth to each character. And flimsy as they may look, there’s always a fun symbol hidden around there. Fascinatingly, the women in this film are more than just one-note characters. They’re fascinating character studies – filled with the right amount of focus, survival instinct, power and vulnerability – even if some of them appear for a short while. Within a world that reeks of dark desolation through its shining daylight, every reaction needs to have been emotionally authentic; and emotionally authentic it definitely is. One of the very pressing topics that I’ve come to be peeved with is how the apparent overpowering feminism of Mad Max would break the franchise. Ultimately, however, the movie cannot – and might I repeat, cannot – be bracketed as either matriarchal or patriarchal; bracketing it would be akin to bracketing Birdman as solely a life-of-a-passionate-playwright film when it definitely was so much more than that. The movie covers multiple raging topics like the dangers of religious cultism, the presence of surprising sanity within the apparent insanity and the perils of standing out as an honorable human being in a world that’s stuck in a morbidly shameless societal cycle, among which the never-ending oppressions on the women being a part of a patriarchal society is but an equally nominal part of the many silent commentaries he passes in through all that ever-ravishing mayhem. Judging the quality of a film due to its inclusion of an actor (Edge of Tomorrow), or putting a film down in one’s desperate need to achieve some personal vendetta are rather shameful acts committed on otherwise extremely strong films, so let’s make sure we don’t do that to this one now, shall we?

I am a water baby.

I am a water baby.

To Perform or Not to Perform

Gibson might have immortalized Max Rockatansky to many, but Tom Hardy pitches an equally strong performance of the role; pulling it off, and then some. Within his classic strong-silence, there’s a lot that’s spoken through nothing but body language. The equation he shares with Theron’s Furiosa isn’t clunky, and progresses smoothly and surprisingly realistically for all the immense insanity surrounding them. Theron herself is excellently cast, pulling off the role with the confidence of having the experience of being Furiosa herself. Hugh Keays-Byrne plays the overpowering antagonist with the utmost devilish glee, sinking his teeth into the role like no other. And then there’s Nicholas Hoult’s terrific Nux. Having pulled off a zombie-with-a-heart and an accidental mutant with surprising effortlessness prior, this only adds up to yet another role he manages to shine in, bright as the sun. Zoë Kravitz doesn’t have a lot to do, but when she does, she does it right. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has yet another – relatively small – role that still surprisingly has an important part to play. And considering the English model’s last appearance in a film was the third installment of the dubiously successful Transformers franchise, one can safely say this is definitely a shocking career upgrade by leaps and bounds. Riley Keough (Magic Mike) contributes to an extremely warm, understanding presence as the aptly named Capable, always ready to see both sides of the coin. Basically, everyone’s perfect in all their splendor. Can’t see no wrong, won’t see no wrong.

Worth it?

The problem I’m seeing with this film’s likability/lovability/obsess-ability factor is how it’s completely dependent on what the audience is looking for. Hear me out, then, for if you’re not a fancier of the dangerously humorous amounts of insanity, you might not be a fan of this film. Heck, you may not have but liked any of the previous Mad Max movies either. That does not – I repeat, does NOT – change the fact that George Miller’s undying craftsmanship makes this one of the BEST action masterpieces – nay, possibly THE BEST action masterpiece – in what could probably be the last (and possibly even the coming) decade. Entertaining as hell broken loose, this one doesn’t leave out the insanity with a touch of humor; not to forget the extremely important metaphors Miller dares to speak about but subtly through this ever-so-unstoppable visual action classic. In short, Mad Max: Fury Road is the BEST MOVIE EVER. There. I said it. Deal with it.

PS: Please, for the love of whatever higher power you believe in (or don’t) do NOT – I repeat, DO NOT – treat this movie the way Edge of Tomorrow was last year, what with the surprisingly not-as-high box-office collections. THIS MOVIE NEEDS ALL THE SUPPORT EVERYONE CAN GIVE IT!

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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