D: George Miller. DP: John Seale. W: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nick Lathouris. Starring: Charlize Theron/Tom Hardy/Nicholas Hoult/Hugh Keays-Byrne/Rosie Huntington-Whiteley/Zoe Kravitz/Riley Keough/Abbey Lee/Courtney Eaton/Josh Helman.
This summer is overloaded with new installments of franchises thought put to rest. But not a single studio can bare to let a profiting idea go to bed. Finally there is a series that picks up something altogether new and although takes years to complete, was clearly worth every penny.
George Miller’s original Mad Max was released in 1979 and starred a twenty three year old Mel Gibson. The film spawned two sequels and put both Australians on the international cinematic map. Three decades later we are given Mad Max: Fury Road, not a remake or re-telling, but rather a familiar character in a different time.
Shot in Australian and Africa, Mad Max: Fury Road is frankly, breathtaking. Vast stretches of orange desert plume on screen and ask as a palette mixer to the machinery fueled world of this post apocalyptic setting. Veteran cinematographer, John Steale, creates an epic visual statement to match the intensity of the film’s action. Certain sequences are sped up and the camera moves quickly, encouraging a sense of fatigue that is simultaneously exhausting and electrifying. One almost feels the whiplash from the film, never with a moments peace like its characters.
Tom Hardy’s Max is another installment in Hardy’s professional grunting, hmming and murmuring skills. Like the original character played by Mel Gibson, Max is a man of few words and Hardy perfectly harrumphs through this performance. His voice is reminiscent of his Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, but thankfully is given so much to do it doesn’t quite matter. Double billed with svelte and head shaven Charlize Theron, her Furiosa carries her torment more like a shield rather than a weapon in Max’s case. Theron is all ultimate action star here and I am not the least bit surprised by the success of the film with her as its heroine.
Joining the leads is a great performance by Nicholas Hoult who is hardly recognizable. The harem of girls Furiosa smuggles certainly carry their weight though some of their moments ring a bit melodramatic amidst so much carnage. Hugh Keays-Byrne, a veteran of the previous films, is unforgettable as tyrant war lord, Immortan Joe.
Not enough can be said about the action. It is non-stop. It is barbaric. It is ferociously beautiful. Despite such a simple linear narrative, Mad Max: Fury Road builds an intricate world both visually and conceptually. I could rant and rave about specific moments, but I would hate to give it away? Go see for yourselves.