US Release Date: 05-15-2015
Directed by: George Miller
- Tom Hardy, as
- Max Rockatansky
- Charlize Theron, as
- Imperator Furiosa
- Nicholas Hoult, as
- Hugh Keays-Byrne, as
- Immortan Joe
- Josh Helman, as
- Nathan Jones, as
- Rictus Erectus
- Zoe Kravitz, as
- Toast the Knowing
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, as
- The Splendid Angharad
- Riley Keough, as
- Abbey Lee, as
- The Dag
- Courtney Eaton, as
- Cheedo the Fragile
- John Howard, as
- The People Eater
- Richard Carter as
- The Bullet Farmer
Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road
What can be written about a film that is 80 percent action, 15 percent shots of moving vehicles and 5 percent dialogue? The plot to Mad Max: Fury Road is less complicated than a 10 minute Sponge Bob Square Pants short. There is no thinking required but at least there is always something moving on screen to keep you interested.
The film starts with a shot of a man overlooking a desert. He narrates, “My name is Max. My world is reduced to a single instinct: Survive. As the world fell it was hard to know who was more crazy. Me... Or everyone else.” We are given very little reason why the world has become a wasteland and we get even less history on Max. He is haunted by the image of a little girl but we get no specifics on her and never do we actually see a sign that he is in anyway crazy.
That opening line is the longest speech Tom Hardy speaks in the entire film. Most of the time he never talks and when he does it is the simplest of sentences like, “Hope is a Mistake.” “That is bait.” “Here they come again.” Sure, I understand that this is an action film and not Shakespeare but a bit more dialogue would have helped.
Anyway, within seconds of the movie starting, Max is captured and taken to a place where a grotesque leader, Immortan Joe, has set himself up as a God. He has all of the healthy men shave their heads and be his warriors. Hot girls are all his wives and unattractive ones are used like cows to produce milk. All the old and unhealthy are around to worship him as he occasionally gives them water. He has the single funniest line when he tells the thirsty folks scrambling to collect the life sustaining fluid, “Do not become addicted to water, it will take hold of you and you will resent its absence.”
After a failed attempt to escape while wearing a mask that resembles Bane, Max is used as a blood bag attached to one young bald warrior, Nux, by intravenous tube and chains. The film never says why exactly, he just is. When a woman named Furiosa attempts to drive away in an oil rig with a precious cargo, the leader and all of his bald warriors give pursuit. This means that Max must go along as he is attached to Nux. After lots of desert vehicle chasing and questions of trust, Max and Nux join Furiosa and her mission.
The movie continues with more chases, explosions, deaths, abductions and escapes. Throughout the action we hear Furiosa and Max use the word, “redemption.” All that we learn of Furiosa’s past is that she was captured by Immortan Joe as a child. What is in her past that she needs redeemed? Other than whatever happened to his daughter, we are given very little to ponder about what redemption Max is after. A little more insight would have helped. Furiosa and Max share many scenes. A sentence from Furiosa about her guilt for having abandoned her family or one from Max about not being there for his daughter is all that was truly needed.
I love Tom Hardy and would count him as one of the best and bravest actors of the past decade. However, he is unable to capture the crazy edge that Mel Gibson brought to the part. Perhaps it was Gibson’s unstable persona and his films were a bit darker than this one. Gibson’s Mad Max films featured the rape of women and men. Hardy handles the action scenes, but his Max is so introverted that he is merely the shell of a man. There is nothing to connect him to the audience. Again, we needed to know more about him to relate to him. Hardy mumbles some lines as in a nod to the poor dubbing in the first Mad Max film where another actor spoke for Gibson.
If all you need is action, then disregard everything I just wrote and enjoy yourself. I cannot recall a movie with so much non-stop excitement. Sure, we want that in an adventure film but if the main character never rings true or becomes anything more than an enigma then all was for not. We want Max to survive because he is playing the hero but if he dies there is truly no loss to the plot either. He never becomes any sort of a real person and thus we feel little for him.
Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Eric, I have no idea what you were expecting of this movie. You say, "What can be written about a film that is 80 percent action, 15 percent shots of moving vehicles and 5 percent dialogue?" Well apparently a 3.5 star review can be written about a movie with just those percentages, because you wrote one about The Road Warrior, the 2nd of the original Mad Max films. It's a film that contains those exact same percentages. You also complain about Hardy's limited dialogue, but again, if you return to The Road Warrior, you'll find that Gibson has possibly even less dialogue than Hardy does in this installment. Criticizing this movie for not being what you wanted it to be, rather than it failing to be what writer/director George Miller wanted it to be, seems petty. What this movie wants to be is a non-stop thrill ride of an action movie and at that it succeeds brilliantly. If you're expecting anything else then you're in the wrong theater.
It's true that the story wastes little time filling in Max's backstory. Clearly Miller was counting on audience awareness of the original trilogy. I have no doubt that those who are unfamiliar with them and are left with questions after seeing this one, will seek them out if so inclined. There's certainly no need for extra exposition here. As for Furiosa's redemption, considering that she's been working for Immortan Joe for who knows how many years, I'd say it's safe to say that she's done plenty to regret and again there's no need for further explanations.
I also disagree Eric that Gibson brought more of a crazy edge to the part. The truth about Mad Max is that he was never mad. He was always the sane man in an insane world. Gibson played crazier in the Lethal Weapon series. What Gibson did bring to the part was a slightly more comic edge. Not that he wasn't deadly serious in the action, but there was always, no matter how dark the situation, a slight twinkle in his eyes that marked a dark sense of humor. It was that extra spark of life that brought an ounce more charisma to the role. It's why I do agree with Eric that while Hardy is very believable in the action scenes, he doesn't bring anything particularly unique to the part of Max.
Theron, however, is terrific as Furiosa and nearly steals the entire movie. She is able to go toe-to-toe with Max, drive as well as he does, lead an army, and just generally kick-ass and she does it all with just one hand and in a totally glammed-down part. She's such a strong female character that based purely on the previews, an internet furor was started by a "men's rights activist" (not Eric, I should hasten to add) who, in a laughably paranoid moment, called the film a "feminist piece of propaganda posing as a guy flick." Theron isn't the only strong female character as the final battle includes Max fighting side-by-side with several women, some of them at retirement age.
There is one odd side effect of the recasting of Max with a younger actor. Hardy is 37 years old, which means that even if Max was supposed to be in his early 20s during the events of the first movie, then only 15 years have passed, but the world seems to be decades into decline. Charlize Theron is 39 years old, but it's implied that the world was already in its decimated state when she was a child. It's as if the script is saying decades have passed since the events of Thunderdome, but somehow Max has stayed the same age. It's one of those plot points you just have to ignore.
Yes, this is an action movie, but that's what the Mad Max films have always been. And in terms of action, this is one of the greatest ones ever made. The action starts almost immediately and it rarely lets up. The final, climactic battle is so perfectly choreographed that it's virtually a ballet of violence. I don't usually waste my money on 3-D, but it's well worth it for this film as all manner of vehicles, bullets, body parts, and explosions are thrown out of the screen at you.
There will be deeper movies this summer and ones with more fully developed characters, but I doubt you'll find one more action packed or one that will leave you further on the edge of your seat. It may not be the movie Eric was expecting to see, but it's exactly the movie it wanted to be.
Nicholas Hoult and Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Eric's crazy, Mad Max: Fury Road is the best Mad Max movie to date. Sure the plot is simple but how is that any different from the other Mad Max movies, or hell, from nearly every action movie ever made for that matter? The acting here is far superior to any Mel Gibson installment and the nonstop action makes for some of the best eye candy visuals in a long time. Like Scott I saw it in 3D and I thought this was one of the few times it actually added to the experience. 3D works best during action sequences and I agree with my brothers that this movie is at least 80% action, so there you go.
George Miller took a chance making Max basically play the role of sidekick to another character. But what a character she is! Imperator Furiosa is an instantly iconic screen heroine. She makes Ripley look downright quaint in the bad-ass bitch department. This is one aptly named character and she's also one of the greatest original screen persona's to come along in years. Charlize Theron is brilliant. I'd say she's found her signature role and this is one time when I think it's too bad they don't give Oscars to actors in summer blockbusters. She's that good.
Amidst all the action and carnage there is a feminist statement being made. I'm surprised Eric didn't mention it. Here we have women sex slaves escaping from their male owner. In one scene -that says a lot without much talking- the women remove their saw-toothed chastity belts. The dialogue may be sparse but it's often powerful. One of the women defiantly tells her male oppressors, “We are not things. We are not things!” They run to an all female outpost hiding in the desert, the place where Furiosa was born. One of the old women living there carries a box filled with seeds. Clearly women are the caregivers and nurturers, while men are violent and destructive. In one scene Toast asks Nux who he thinks killed the Earth.
My guess about Furiosa's past is that she was once one of Immortan Joe's “wives”, and she became his driver after losing her arm – maybe as a punishment for trying to escape once before? One thing that makes Furiosa different from Ripley is that as strong as Ripley was, she was still sometimes portrayed as a sex symbol, like in the famous scene in her panties. Imperator Furiosa is a person first and a female second, an important distinction. She is also much more of an anti-heroine than was Ripley.
I think some fans of the Mad Max movies may feel a bit unhappy about having their hero play second fiddle to a woman – he even gets outdone in the action department. Personally I found Imperator Furiosa to be such a compelling figure that I didn't mind her stealing the movie (and she does steal it). Hardy and Theron share several good scenes together and -again without much talking- they are able to beautifully demonstrate the developing trust and the growing bond between Max and Furiosa. The scene where he finally tells her his name being a simple yet effective bit of symbolism.
Yes Mad Max: Fury Road is making a feminist statement but since when is that a bad thing? I mean it's not like we live in a world where women ever get kidnapped and raped right? The great thing about Fury Road is that the underlying message never gets in the way of the story or action in this nonstop thrill-ride.
Photos © Copyright Village Roadshow Pictures (2015)