Shot full of exhilaration, adrenaline and metal pumped action, this is a 2 hour frenzy of maddening stunts, graphic and creative scenes and an interesting enough screenplay to stand out as one of the best and most unique films to hit cinemas in a while. I honestly have to say it deserves the praise for its sheer rumbling presence and all out attitude to present cinematic excitement.
Amongst a sandy wasteland we come to meet Max (Tom Hardy) who ends up imprisoned in the land of War Boys and leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Max becomes a blood donor for Nux (Nicholas Hoult) who leaves the dwelling to chase down Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who has gone off road instead of obtaining gas for their city. A barrage of dust, metal, scraps and explosive carnage follows in the pursuit of getting the Five Wives back.
The scenery of the film itself is stunning, location scouts and production crews have found a perfect treat for this empty apocalyptic setting in Namibia. The sweeping shots of barren deserts and rolling dust clouds set the scene brilliantly and when a hugely ominous sand storm fills half the screen in a goosebump inducing wide shot you know this film is keen on creating the right look for the world it is presenting.
I have to admit in never seeing any of the other Mad Max offerings, but if they have the same George Miller grip and come with the same wacky and dark take on life then I’ll enjoy them. This clearly with the money and world of film nowadays takes things up a notch from what the 80’s movies would have been like and the near endless series of vehicular battering choreography involving armoured cars, high flying attackers up on poles and motorbikes is a delicious treat for the senses. In the IMAX, the roaring sound of engines fires into your gut and sticks there for the duration.
Miller evidently has a knack for visual flair and the odd yet creative edge this film has sets it well apart from other big movies vying for attention. The many aerial shots hits home the huge scope of these cars chasing the War Rig, billowing clouds of orange dust throw up in the wide frames making us see the weighty tension of what’s forever hunting Furiosa, Max and the Wives down. An apocalypse has never looked so good and the future most certainly belongs to the mad when under guidance of Miller’s direction.
John Seale’s cinematography gifts the film further amazement and with the crew on hand to knock up these hybrid cars, assistants to help make-up the acting talent and weird bits and bobs adding to costumes and set, the movie is filled with things to try and catch and needs repeated viewings to see all wonders adding to the twisted flavour of this insane future land. Characters are insane and yet exotic or quiet yet engaging, from club footed villains to the simple white purity sheets of the young wives, the characters come across believably.
You could say a weakness is in the length, at one point fading shots and scenes drag, when even cutting fifteen minutes or so could have benefited the movie. It’s a slight shame as it lost a sliver of the pacy madness the film had so effortlessly carved up beforehand. This and the perhaps less than confident, assured role the white robed wives could have had helps make the film less than perfect. Aside from some later women and Furiosa herself, the women aren’t overly brave or strong and for a movie trying to sell as bringing power back to femininity it doesn’t quite achieve that hopeful target but it gets much closer than most blockbusters. The ending itself also drifts like a wayward car into Hollywood plains, souring the bonkers feel of the movie previously.
Tom Hardy is assured and gruff as can be as the near mute Max, his bulk and acting stature doing more than enough to convince anyone he can be the lead but the film actually gives more for Charlize Theron to play with and she does it really well. Furiosa is an engaging character with a quest you root for, her impairment is only physical and she acts her damn socks off as this wishful women on the brink of redemption. Nicholas Hoult, what a performance, what a lovely performance. The wide eyed insanity of his role is damn fine to watch. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who may be a model and a shoddy Transformers alumni actually does alright as a pregnant wife named The Splendid Angharad. Keays-Byrne is never truly seen but the presence through his suit and sinister mask is helped by his domineering swagger as central nasty of the piece.
As individual as one can get in the market these days, this is a full throttle ride of practical effects that washes over the movie in a ferocious way. The story isn’t groundbreaking but the freaky apocalyptic style and stunts certainly are. A booming escape into action like never before.