Mad Max Fury Road
Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoë Kravitz, Hugh Keays-Byrne,
“Fury Road” is one of the most explosive, rewarding and action-packed films of the summer and yet it isn’t because it manages to pull off the type of suspenseful car chase “Fast & Furious” will never understand. Nor is it simply because writer/director George Miller (1979’s “Mad Max”) understands that a reinvention is better than a remake. It also isn’t specifically that Miller put the focus of the fourth Max film on a female character. No, it’s all of these elements hardwired together, plus the fact that at every intersection, the Australian director laughs in the face of Hollywood tradition. Miller goes old school and blows things up for real instead of loading the film down with special effects like “The Avengers.” These actors were on location for real in South Africa facing the elements instead of a comfortable green screen.
Sometime in the future, earth has become a barren wasteland: no water, no food, nothing but red dirt and sand. Max (Hardy) is chasing his demons after the loss of his wife and daughter, but there is an entire entourage of destruction chasing him. He is captured and masked in the citadel where Immortal Joe (Hugh Keays Byrne) rules the poor, toothless and desperate people; enslaving the beautiful girls to further his bloodline. On a gas and bullet run, Joe’s trusted road warrior Imperator Furiosa (Theron) diverts from the planned route. With the dictator’s young pregnant wives in tow, Furiosa heads towards her homeland called “the green place.” An abducted child herself, now completely barren, she is hell bent on causing as much devastation to Joe’s dynasty as possible.
Miller defies what expectations audiences will bring with them.
The title might read “Mad Max,” but make no mistake, this is the Furiosa show and Oscar winner Theron might just be the summer movie season’s biggest hit. In most American/Hollywood films where the men get all the cool shooting scenes or action-packed moments, Miller seems intent on making sure Furiosa gets the big moments here, even in one scene using Max’s shoulder to steady her weapon for a kill. It’s the type of female anti-hero that attracted Theron (Monster, Prometheus) to the role in the first place and provides a refreshing take on how American films treat woman.In fact, there are more females in a wide range of ages in this film than you will see anywhere else on screen this summer.
When was the last time you saw a film, an action movie no less, heading in one direction (right to left as cinematics 101 dictate) toward some described promised land, where mid movie, they turn around and go back (moving left to right which is totally against the rules). Again, Miller defies what expectations audiences will bring with them. Despite being a two-hour chase film, the onset takes a few minutes to warm up, but the final battle scene is legendary in the realm of chase sequences. With little dialogue, Miller still manages to deliver an impactful story, and surprisingly, even the score by Junkie XL (“Divergent”) hits emotional high notes during some of the films softer scenes. Furiosa has the biggest character arc, followed by Hoult who is a reformed baddie. Hardy is back in Bane/brute territory, playing second fiddle to Theron, with an inner struggle and conflict that promises to gain more prominence in upcoming sequels.
Theron and Miller hijack summer movie season with the year’s most explosive action thriller.