Film Posts 14: Mad Max: Fury Road

Film Posts 14: Mad Max: Fury Road (May 16th)

Mandy and I came out of Spooks and went for coffee. We were both feeling a bit tired and debated going home instead of going back in for part two of this week’s double bill. But we figured we’d give it a try while we were there, and just hope we didn’t fall asleep during Mad Max: Fury Road.

No chance. No chance whatsoever.

Two hours of action and mayhem, that rarely slows down for breath, this is a tremendous retooling of the Mad Max franchise. George Miller is back, back, back.

Tom Hardy takes over from Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky and is completely at home – you’d be happy to see him carry on a new run at the franchise. Charlize Theron may be the real star, though, as Imperator Furiosa, who is up there with Ripley in the kick-ass female lead gallery. And that may trigger an interesting feminist discussion on the movie: it’s not Max who’s the driving force, it’s Furiosa’s determination. And though her grittiness at first seems undermined by the scantily-clad “wives”, they turn out to be powerful, tough and resourceful figures in themselves – it doesn’t look that way the first time we meet them, but I think that’s just Miller setting up the stereotype so he can knock it down.

And that introduction of the wives is done in a knowing, tongue-in-cheek way that echoes all through the movie – I defy anyone not to smile at the way the musical accompaniment is delivered when Immortan Joe’s gang heads off in pursuit. This isn’t a film that takes itself too seriously – it’s having way too much fun for that. The creativity in the design is awesome (nice to see that, despite all the other issues in this post-apocalyptic world, these guys can still get enough power together to do an awful lot of welding), and the stunt work is a glorious throwback to pre-CGI: I wrote something similar about John Wick a few weeks ago – Fury Road reinforces the point that you just can’t beat physical stunt work in this kind of movie.

Plot? Who cares? It’s about the action and the spectacle. And the big smile that you get on your face as one absurd event or idea after another rolls across the screen. Right up to a “just to give the people watching in 3D something just for them” shot towards the end.

I was concerned before I went in that that going back to a franchise that last got an outing 30 years ago (yes, really, 30 years) could be a massive mistake. Not a chance. We were always in safe hands with George Miller. What a ride.

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