You’ve doubtless heard by now of the
idiotic he-man women-hater’s club life members who have called for a boycott of MAD
MAX: FURY ROAD on the grounds that it might just be a Trojan horse of a movie that
(INCEPTION horn blast)… promoted feminism!
– gasp! Without having seen the
movie, they called for fellow idiots to stay away, as - gulp! – Max was not in
fact the driving (no pun intended) protagonist in his own film! – double gasp! hurrumph!
But it turns out the idiots’ information was correct - not about woman-hating –
that just makes them wankers. Literally. No, this time out Max (a near
monosyllabic, beefy Tom Hardy replacing the lithe Mel Gibson) does share the
lead with the equally angry and resourceful Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and the
film itself is indeed a feminist powerhouse - perfectly so. It’s also, in terms
of pure action cinema, the best of movie 2015, the best we’ve had since THE
RAID movies, and in terms of sheer volume of practical car stunts the best
since, well, MAD MAX 2.
You really don’t need to know any of what happens ahead of time – half the fun
is catching up to a story that literally takes off without you. FURY ROAD operates on a drip feed plot that emerges from
within a continuous, tightly-wound cable of action set pieces – yet we never feel as though one is happening at the expense of the
is great cinema. Miller is channelling Buster Keaton,
and it’s an absolute joy in an era of stock standard, stop-the-plot-for-another-action-sequence pacing (or worse, feeling like
the plot has been weakly drawn in to link the action); they suddenly feel very lazy
Don’t get too caught up in trying to place this story within Max’s chronology –
that’s not really possible. FURY ROAD isn’t a sequel as such, more a
fever-dream mash-up of the previous films, cherry picking bits and pieces –
Max’s Interceptor here, the tortured memory of his dead child there. But these
are, like the 150 odd vehicles used in production, cannibalised into something
bigger and, well, madder. Just strap in and try to keep up with the frenetic
pace and two solid hours of majestic bombast. Let the seemingly never-ending
array of delirium-inducing stunts amaze you, the crazed scope exhilarate you,
the sheer deranged creativity envelope you.
When the euphoria eventually subsides, one
question remains: how the hell did George Miller – a man who turned 70 this
year, who hasn’t directed a live action film in nearly 20 years and who hasn’t
returned to Max’s world for a clear 30 (BEYOND THUNDERDOME was 1985), pull this
off? Well, I have a theory.
There’s a thing some screenwriters keep separate from their screenplay (and a
director keeps separate from the storyboards), often referred to as a ‘bible’.
It contains all of the details of the world in which the story of the
screenplay takes place. After watching FURY ROAD, you get the feeling that its
bible might just be bigger and more detailed than The Bible. The reason? Miller,
who’s never been a slouch in the creativity department, had an additional ten
years to tweak FURY ROAD’s story and expand on its bible, thanks to a blessing
very much in disguise – going back to the intended start date of 2003 or so, every
time he and his crew set out to shoot the film, they were delayed time and again,
by everything from civil war to desert-killing rain. He had something not
afforded to most huge Hollywood productions: the time to perfectly realise
every little detail of its world (which I’ll not spoil here, suffice to say
that it’s impossibly detailed) that wraps around the story. It’s crucial to
FURY ROAD’s success, and what enables that elegant, minimalist plotting. There
are those who describe it as one long chase; to be pedantic, it’s two – but don’t
let either description fool you into presuming the film to be one-paced.
Rather, while FURY ROAD is constantly in motion, it is frequently, expertly
shifting gears to keep us entertained.
If there are any criticisms to be made, the first is perhaps that Miller has in
places cut FURY ROAD past the bone. We could easily have seen the motivations
of big bad Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, again some kind of hybrid of his own
Toecutter from the first film, Humungus from 2 and Tina Turner’s Aunty Entity
from BEYOND THUNDERDOME) strengthened. Word has it there were 480 hours of
takes to draw from, so a juicy director’s cut might not be out of the question.
Also, while quality of CG shots (used only in the most impossible of
circumstances) is by and large very good, there are some moments of jarringly
ordinary background compositing in some of the car interiors (obviously filmed
on a studio set) for the few dialogue-heavy scenes. It’s a pity to even have to
mention these though, when so much
the rest of the film delivers so voluminously, so outlandishly, and is so purely and
perfectly entertaining on every level.
With any luck, FURY ROAD will be the long-overdue firecracker up the arse for
financiers of Australian-made genre cinema; a reminder that not only can we do
this sort of thing (and always could), but do it as well - if not better - than
If you have any love for action, you must
see FURY ROAD on the biggest, loudest screen you can find. Then point and laugh at someone who boycotted it.MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is released worldwide from May 14UPDATE:
I’ve now also seen the film in 3D, but I can’t honestly say that it
adds much to the experience. 2D was the winner for me.