Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Film Review: Mad Max - Fury Road

It’s a mad, mad world for Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller’s triumphant return to the iconic Aussie film series that continues to redefine post-apocalyptic action.

Thirty years since the last installment, Mad Max: Fury Road finds our titular hero Max (Hardy) alone in the desolate wasteland once more. After he is captured by a barbaric band of hooligans lead by a fierce warlord named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and chained up as a blood bag for demented grunt Nux (Nicholas Hoult), Max is reluctantly plunged into a relentless pursuit across the desert in search of Imperator Furiosa (Theron), a stray lieutenant who has pledged to save Joe’s harem of wives from years of torment and rape by leading them to the prophesized Green Place.

The action and characters in Miller’s Fury Road are all mental, from Hoult’s utterly deranged Nux, to the flame throwing, guitar-shredding weirdo stood atop a speeding truck with chaos and destruction reigning down around him. It’s like Jim Carrey’s Riddler snorted a dozen lines of cocaine with a Matthew Vaughan movie and they decided to spend a weekend off-roading in the Outback.

Hardy bears the weight of expectation by stepping into Mel Gibson’s weathered boots with ease. With barely two-dozen spoken lines throughout the film, he effectively conveys a wide range of emotions through the minutest of details, from a half-smirk here, to a troubled grimace there.

The real star of the show, however, is Theron as the fierce and uncompromising Furiosa. Complete with shaved head, bionic arm and steely determination, Theron’s magnetic and captivating performance offers justification for its own solo spin-off movie. Miller takes the time to afford Furiosa, along with each of Joe’s battered and beaten harem, a satisfying and emotionally resonant character arc, from Rosie Huntington-Whitley’s angelic leader Sapphire, to Zoe Kravitz’s plucky youngster Toast.

In fact, it’s this ensemble of strong three-dimensional female characters, which includes Aussie model Megan Gale and Bunbury’s Courtney Eaton, that makes Fury Road so refreshing and distinctive from others in its genre. Miller hasn’t shied away from crafting a kickass action movie with equally strong male and female characters where the latter aren’t just there to look sexy and pout.

As our heroes are pursued further into the barren deserts, Miller unleashes the full extent of his imagination in a series of astounding action scenes that transcend our expectations for modern filmmaking. Fury Road is a symphony of mayhem that effortlessly dances across the screen through meticulous choreography, and seamless editing that is never hard to follow or disorientating. It’s a full on sensory assault with practical effects and stunts that leave you feeling exhilarated and amazed through every single frame.

This vivid imagination is shared by chief production designer and art director Colin Gibson; from the nightmarish doom cars torn straight from the fuel-soaked tracks of Death Race 2000, to the dirty dieselpunk lovechild of Bane and Dark Vader that is Immortan Joe; every costume, car and set looks authentic and rich in detail.

In addition to this, Miller’s adrenaline-fuelled demolition derby proves itself to be much more than just unrelenting carnage. Amongst the chaos, Fury Road is a film that also finds time to comment on some heavy themes, from the abuse of women, to the rapidly degrading environment and our insatiable hunger for natural resources.

The Verdict: 9/10

Mad Max: Fury Road is an unparalleled display of action storytelling that serves as a benchmark for every genre. It excels across every element of filmmaking; from acting to direction, art design, score and editing, this is one of the most captivating and memorable action films in recent memory. You’d be mad to miss it.

Mad Max: Fury Road is available in cinemas across Australia now.

This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.

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