A little late in the game, I finally managed to watch this, oh so highly praised, action spectacle of a movie. Does it live up the hype? Naw, not really. But it’s still a damn good and entertaining action movie! My review will probably be a mashup of other reviews I read, saw and listened to over the past days but well… who cares, since I mostly agreed with them.
Let’s start with the story! Max (Tom Hardy) literally stumbles into the adventure we’re presented with here. He gets captured by some strange wasteland warriors who bring him to the Citadel. A sorta kinda death valley big rock island in the middle of a desert. A place ran by a family of deformed and mutated warlords. They’re in control of the water and over the past decades seemed to have built a religion that takes parts from all kinds of different beliefs we know today. The movie throws us into this world without much of an explanation and I find that rather refreshing. What’s to explain there. Take a look around. The world’s gone to shit. Not even that… it’s more the dust that’s left of a pile of shit when the sun constantly drains it from all its fluids. I surely don’t want to live in that world! And the movie does a good job making you understand that it’s not a cool place to be. All that without too much of an explanation. It’s textbook “show, don’t tell” George Miller executes here.
The movie shifts into next gear soon, when Charlize Theron’s character Furiosa prepares a truck for a gas run, visiting a place called Gastown. We never get to see that place except for silhouettes on the horizon. Furiosa managed to free a group of women that belong to Imortan Joe, the leader of the Citadel. These women are basically used as sex slaves and are only there for breeding purposes. When Joe finds out that his wives are gone, he immediately starts to hunt down Furiosa.
In the meanwhile, after a not so successful attempt to flee the Citadel, Max gets strapped to the front of a car. To serve as a bloodbag for one of the warriors! I think it’s never really explained in the movie but these warriors are, I guess, sick from radiation and try to extend their life by filtering their blood? So Max ends up as this living bloodbag for one of these guys called Nux (Nicolas Hoult). Nux is probably the only character who is having an arc throughout the film. Hoult does a fantastic job with the material and in the end you kinda like that character a lot. Now the big chase for Furiosa begins. And that’s basically the rest of the movie. With a couple of short breathers here and there.
Now I went to see the movie with two friends who didn’t like it very much. At least one of them is an action movie fan. While the other one is more for movies that have something to say and make you think. From what I gathered their main opinion was that the movie was stupid. Action fine and good but ultimately… stupid. The main reason for that probably is the decision our characters make in the middle of the film. When they decide to turn around and drive back to the Citadel. In that scene Max tells them that driving further into that one direction will get them nowhere except to the neverending salt flats. Now I read that what Max actually meant is that they reached a point where once the ocean started. And crossing that vast area of nothingness surely doesn’t make sense. But they don’t mention the word ‘Ocean’ in the movie. I, honestly, wasn’t able to put 1 and 1 together while watching the film. And I guess that my friends didn’t either. While the Wives and Furiosa don’t look very old… I guess Max is the only character old enough to remember the oceans. Other than that, yes… it’s the purest kind of an action movie. And in that respect it is very well done.
This movie is exactly two hours long. And it’s the first (in a very long) time, that a movie (for me) felt shorter than it actually is. All these blockbusters nowadays are so goddamn overlong. I welcome a barebone action movie that focusses on what it wants to be. Instead of trying to please every nonsense demographic that ever existed. It gives you an outline of the characters and that’s all you get. The movie doesn’t bother delivering all the backstory of each character and why they’re there and do what they do. Some might say that it would be nice to have that stuff and while normally I would agree… I’d have to disagree in case of this particular movie. It does not need that over-explanatory cheap sugarcoating. Instead you get a movie that’s easily among the best choreographed, easy to read, explosive action movies of all time. And the movie doesn’t want or strive to be more than exactly that.
From what I gathered there is a lot of sublevel detail that you will only notice in futher viewings. The costume and vehicle design alone is amazing. It almost hurts seeing all these cars blow up! It also delivers characters that leave a lot of room for interpretation. The movie doesn’t waste too much time on them. Remember Boba Fett? He’s in probably roughly 10 minutes of the original Star Wars trilogy… and he became one of the most iconic characters ever. You know why? Because he was a mystery! No I don’t want to compare the Fury Road characters to Boba Fett… but the approach on how to handle characters isn’t a bad one. We don’t know too much about Furiosa for example. But I can guarantee that her character would surely serve well for a fantastic comic prequel kind of thing.
The stunt work and VFX are seamless. I can only praise how well they worked with the practical effects. It all looked realistic and the fact they used real cars surely plays a big role why this movie became a success. It’s also funny how an over 70 years old director has to show all the youngens how to shoot action! It seems like none of the younger generation of directors know how to shoot action anymore. It’s all shaky cam and quick cuts. Not in Fury Road. The action was fantastic and easy to follow. In comparison to the action sequences in Age of Ultron, Fury Road is lightyears ahead. Whenever an action sequence in Ultron started I, more than once, thought “get it over with!”… that thought never came up in Fury Road once. Again taking Ultron as a reference when it comes to dialogue. Ultron is a very talky movie. Fury Road on the other hand minimizes dialogue to an absolut minimum. And again I have to disagree with the friends I saw it with. I found the dialogue very efficient and sometimes a short grunt is enough to say what other movies would have used a whole sentence for. Some would call it lazy writing… I call it well observed, appropriate and efficient.
So is it the masterpiece everyone says? No it isn’t. For a masterpiece you need a little more than just action. No matter how good the action is. But for the time we live in it easily is one of the best action movies in a long time. And for that alone it’s worth a recommendation.
Mad Max: Fury Road on IMDb