Mad Max: Fury Road
Ferocious and irresistible, Mad Max: Fury Road is a modern masterpiece that could redefine the action standard.
May 15, 2015
George Miller has done the near-impossible and made car chases interesting again. Not just interesting, mind you. Sensational. Mad Max: Fury Road is electrifying, breathtaking, white-knuckle cinema at its masterful best, and — given the entire film is a car chase — that’s no mean feat.
Consider the problem. Chase sequences become interminably dull as soon as you recognise they are restricted by just two possible outcomes: ‘pursuer catches’ or ‘pursued evades’. Subject to a few notable exceptions (French Connection and Ronin being the standouts), these scenes merely interrupt the narrative and contribute little or nothing to the character arcs or overall plot.
The difference is the road movie. Miller, who practically invented the genre 35 years ago, understands that everything changes when the chase is the story. It's cinematic inverted spectrum, where action is transformed from interruption to character defining narrative — an extension of the their very lives and personalities. Traditional distinctions like age and gender become irrelevant, and how a person drives, fights, shoots and stares becomes more important than what they say. Demonstrating an astonishing paucity of dialogue, the action of Mad Max: Fury Road doesn’t just speak more loudly than words — it positively deafens.
In a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland, earth’s survivors now exist in a collection of militarised tribes fighting over the remaining reserves of gasoline and subject to the tyrannical rule of self-appointed demigods like ‘Immortan Joe’ (Hugh Keays-Byrne). The chase begins almost immediately when a one-armed big-rig driver named Furiosa (Charlize Theron), attempts to liberate Joe's young wives from their servitude as ‘breeders’ and Joe goes all out to recover them. Caught up in the action is Max (Tom Hardy), a wasteland loner captured by Joe’s minions and being used as a living blood bank for one of Furiosa’s pursuers, Nux (an almost unrecognisable Nicholas Hoult).
Plot wise, it’s far from innovative; effectively Waterworld on sand with the design aesthetic of Fallout. Cinematically, however, Mad Max: Fury Road is unparalleled. The action is choreographed to mesmerising perfection, offering a balletic pageant of destruction with a refreshing absence of CGI. The sound, too, is staggering, with the menacing roar of V8 engines mirroring the Inception-like ‘BRAMMM’ that seems an almost constant fixture throughout.
The combined effect is ferocious and irresistible, encapsulating all that makes cinema a uniquely immersive and transportive experience. Miller has crafted something extraordinary here, a modern masterpiece that could very well redefine the action standard. Don't wait for DVD on this one. See it where it's meant to be seen, and see it now.