Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Mad Max: Fury Road
We catch up with Max as he's captured by a group of War Boys, the underlings of our villain Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who was also the villain Toecutter in the first Mad Max movie back in 1979). Joe rules over The Citadel, a city of people who are starved, thirsty, and mutated from some kind of nuclear holocaust. He also has groups of women he keeps as Breeders, and is surrounded by innumerable deformed children. Furiosa leads the War Rig on a run to get gas and bullets, but instead she has secretly snuck out Joe's wives and plans to take them to The Green Place, where she was born and where they'll be safe. Max becomes involved through a War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult) for whom Max is being drained of his universal donor blood. Essentially what follows is an hour and a half of chase scenes in the two hour movie. And it's the best chase action movie since Children of Men.
Writer/director George Miller has created a disturbingly grotesque world with the Mad Max universe. Since Miller is a filmmaker with class, he thankfully hasn't made a gross movie trying to trade on the monstrous creations he's come up with. He created a new type of post-apocalyptic world, and in it he's dropped an extraordinary and almost relentless action movie. I say almost because there is a startling amount of depth here. Furiosa is a fascinating character, presumably barren since she's the only woman in The Citadel we see who's not a breeder or wife. Her anger and intelligence bubbles underneath every action. And her hope and determination drive the story more than anything Max does. She's a wonderful creation by both Miller and Theron.
Fury Road is also, despite the grotesquery, a gorgeous movie to look at. Cold steel blues at night, bright sun baked desert in the daylight, strange shadowy swampland, and a sandstorm for the ages. Miller has crafted a truly wondrous visual creation. He's said he wanted a lot of color in the movie, since most post-apocalyptic movies goes for a washed out palette. He decided to go the opposite route, and we are the better for it as viewers. It earns its R-rating with its endless violence, but again Miller never dwells on it nor does he show anything gratuitous, never lingering on any violence. This is a good, old fashioned, action movie, not a horror flick despite the sound and look of Joe and his servants. It may not be the best action movie ever made, but it has to be on the shortlist.