All the Terminators, Jurassic Parks, Impossible Missions, and superhero adaptations, sequels and reboots might as well just stay home. The king of the 2015 Summer Blockbusters has entered the building. Mad Max: Fury Road is everything the trailers and marketing promised: non-stop, insanely well choreographed and executed action. It’s like the cinematic equivalent of Blackalicious’ unyielding Alphabet Aerobics . It makes Furious 7 look like a walk in the park and Avengers: Age of Ultron look like an animated kids movie. I’m confident in calling it now. Nothing will top this spectacle. This is the summer movie to end all summer movies.
It’s been 30 years since the last Mad Max film, yet it feels like George Miller didn’t waste a minute. Fury Road has been stuck in various stages of development for much of the interim, with Mel Gibson attached to reprise the role in the early 2000s, but it seems that everything worked out in the end, with Tom Hardy bringing some much need fresh blood to the role (often literally). Despite being the fourth film in the series, almost nothing in it relies on the viewer having seen the first three. All you need to know is immediately clear: this is a post apocalyptic world where corrupt warlords rule all, and Max is a lone road warrior who doesn’t put up with their shit.
Despite this being a ‘Mad Max’ film, Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is the real star of the show. The story begins when she defies the warlord’s orders and leaves with all of his sex slaves stowed away in her rig. In the first chase, Max is a prisoner and unwilling participant, strapped to the front of a car to serve as a blood bag for “warboy” Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Once he escapes, Max helps the women, but they are by no means helpless and are all badasses in their own way. This is indeed the feminist action movie many have been waiting for, and it was made by a 70 year old man who wasn’t even trying (take that Whedon). Okay, maybe he was conscious of what he was doing when he brought Eve Ensler (author of The Vagina Monologues) to consult with the cast and educate them about women who have been sexually exploited in similar ways. Ensler even stated in a recent interview “I think George Miller is a feminist, and he made a feminist action film.” Don’t forget that this film was in development long before this was even a hot button issue that Hollywood consistently tried (and failed) to address.
Miller has managed to bring back the shock and awe that the has been lost in the digital era of filmmaking. Because pretty much all of the stunts are done practically, it’s difficult to imagine how they were achieved without injury, and even savvy viewers are left wondering how the hell he shot them. It’s essentially a two hour chase, stopping only occasionally for a breath, yet nothing about it ever gets tedious. Bodies and car parts litter the frame in a beautiful ballet of sand and fire. You could pick just about any two minutes of the movie and it would serve as a good trailer for this awesome adrenaline rush of a film.
George Miller has become the Hollywood hero nobody was expecting. Apart from the Mad Max films, he is actually best known for family fare such as the Happy Feet films and Babe: Pig in the City. Now he has returned to his Aussie roots while also making something completely original. Mad Max: Fury Road is simultaneously a throwback exploitation genre film and extremely progressive and fresh. This expertly executed labour of love is truly cinema in its purest form.