Saturday, 2 January 2016

Hit the Road, Max

There are only a few words in the English language that make a film fan's skin crawl. Perhaps the most notable is the term 'sequel', but maybe 'remake' and 'reboot' are also among those that induce a shiver of fear to run down one's spine. But what about a 'revisiting'? This is Mad Max: Fury Road.

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, it is survival of the fittest and despite his best efforts, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) ends up being kidnapped by a group of 'War Boys' to become a human blood bag. But when the leader of the War Boys, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), sends one of his war leaders, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), to Gas Town on a supply run and she betrays him by fleeing with his prize wives, the War Boys are summoned to bring them back. One War Boy, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), brings Max, his new blood bag, along for the ride. With Max fighting to survive and Furiosa fighting to escape, the two join forces in the car chase to end all car chases.

Tom Hardy as Max

In 1979, George Miller created a legend in Max and solidified that status with two more films, fashioning an icon of the post-apocalyptic genre. After a stint in development hell, Fury Road attempts to do the nigh on impossible: to continue building Max's legendary status with a new actor filling his leather, diesel-punk attire. James Bond and Doctor Who were successful with it, so why not Mad Max? Tom Hardy has absolutely no difficulty in immediately capturing Max's essence; his kind nature compromised by a drive to survive and his mind riddled with the guilt from those he could not save. But be clear, this is not Max's film. Fury Road is Furiosa's film. Theron is the driving force of the movie and its emotional core. Her performance grounds an otherwise wild ride into being more than just another mindless action. She gives the film its heart, its soul, and also its bite.

Charlize Theron as Furiosa
The success of Fury Road lies not in its story or performances alone. With Mad Max, George Miller did not just create a character, he created a world - a world that needed rebuilding and adjusting for Fury Road. Here, Miller shows us that the wasteland has got more brutal, more baron, but it is the same landscape as before. The road gangs are now war cults, the shortage is now of water. The production design tells just as much story as the characters or the plot - we see see a vision of the human race reduced to its most primitive and in desperate need to adapt to survive. But director of photography, John Seale, makes it strangely beautiful, leading to some of the most entrancing cinematography of the year. The same too should be said of editor Margaret Sixel. With Seale's centre framing and Sixel's editing, the film, consisting almost entirely of action, became captivating to watch. The audience was drawn into the wasteland and taken on an exhilarating journey.

Incredible stunt coordination with the 'Polecats'

And on that note, it seems absolutely vital to discuss the stunt work that went into creating this film. Action films are defined by the scale of their action and for Fury Road, this scale seems endless. Nothing is done in halves and no type of action takes precedence over another. The hand to hand combat is just as effective as the driving, the ariel work is as thrilling as the explosions. Every element of the action comes together to form a ferocious and entrancing thrill ride through the apocalyptic desert.

Mad Max: Fury Road is, simply put, the most outstanding film of the year. Not only is it excellently made in every aspect, but it is unlike anything else in its genre. It blows away the competition in its own market as well as subverting expectations of action films and firmly making a name for itself amongst the serious award contenders for 2015.

Best Bit? It is rare I say this but the film's standard almost never drops below a certain point. Its consistency is incredible. So don your leather jacket, prepare to enter Valhalla, scream 'What a lovely lovely day!', and watch this movie.

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