What a ride! What a lovely, demented, full-throttled, pulse-pounding, high-octane, pure adrenaline, ass-kicking, batshit crazy ride! It has taken George Miller 3 decades to come up with another chapter in the franchise that didn’t just catapult him into the league of the finest action filmmakers alive today but also went on to change the entire landscape of all things post-apocalyptic. And with Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth instalment & a possible reboot of the Mad Max series, Miller has crafted something that’s destined to go down as one of the most electrifying, exhilarating & explosively entertaining action films of the past few decades for the frenzied madness that erupts from each frame of this vehicular carnage effortlessly makes up for those 30 years of absence.
Set in the post-apocalyptic wasteland where civilisation has broken down entirely & all that remains of the world is an endless desert landscape, the story of Mad Max: Fury Road concerns Max; a survivor in this bleak future who is hunted by scavengers in his present & haunted by the ghosts of his past. After being taken captive by the army that worships the god-like tyrant Immortan Joe, Max is used as a ‘blood bag’ for the sick War Boys. However, real chase begins when Imperator Furiosa flees with what Joe considers his most prized assets, setting in motion a chain of events that ultimately brings Max & Furiosa together in their desperate attempt to escape from the wasteland but with miles of deserts ahead & legion of marauders behind, only the craziest will survive.
Co-written & directed by George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road marks his homecoming to the genre he himself validated with the vastly influential Mad Max Trilogy and even after 30 years of long gap, Miller proves that he’s still the undisputed mastermind when it comes to vehicular mayhem. Also, by upgrading the post-apocalyptic elements of the feature for the new generation of filmgoers yet retaining the unprecedented charm of old-school action, Miller’s kinetic direction here triumphs in keeping alive the strong legacy of the franchise for fans of the original trilogy will have no hesitation in embracing this latest entry as the fourth instalment in Mad Max saga while viewers who are new to this dystopian future can easily get on board by simply accepting this film as a reboot.
The screenplay doesn’t involve much of verbal exposition for it’s the non-stop action here that handles the storytelling section & defines the characters inhabiting this picture. The visual narration is carried out so well that it doesn’t even require its audience to be well-versed in English to understand what’s happening in the film. The themes of oppression & feminism are strongly highlighted, human objectification attitude is heavily criticised, plus women in this story are no damsels-in-distress who need a man to come rescue them and these elements are highly refreshing to see since they’re rarely found in action flicks. The subversion to sexism in Mad Max: Fury Road does mark the onset of something new in action cinema & it’s gonna be really interesting to see where it journeys from here.
Coming to the technical aspects, Mad Max: Fury Road is a marvel of action filmmaking. Production Design team wonderfully brings to life its vision of the desolate future, does a stellar job with the bizarre vehicles that occupy the maximum screentime & also makes the most of the rocky terrains present in the story. Cinematography completely discards the often gritty & desaturated look of its predecessors, instead choosing to fill the screen with vivid colours, increased saturation & warmer temperature. Use of camera is equally breathtaking for the chosen angles, movements & slow-motion shots further enhance its moments of action and every bit of it is captured in meticulous detail. Editing also keeps the momentum going in its favour, fiercely paces its 2 hours of runtime & knows just when to kill the switch to prevent its narrative from overheated exhaustion.
Still, the best part about Mad Max: Fury Road remains its groundbreaking action for the story puts on screen some of the most dangerous, innovative & jaw-dropping stunts ever committed on film celluloid. In the time when most blockbusters rely on excessive CGI which does contribute to its visual appearance but adds nothing on the emotional scale, this is one cinema that makes every bit of its $150 million budget count for it embraces the old-school style by opting for practical effects over CGI because of which all moments of action, including all crashes & explosions, look way more authentic even if they’re a tad over the top while every peril its characters find themselves in is severely felt. It’s not that CGI is wholly absent but its presence is kept to an absolute minimum with only one sequence with a sand storm being the most noticeable CGI element in the whole picture.
Adding more refinement to its premise is its expertly conducted sound design that adds even more authenticity to every explosion, crash & gunshot occurring in the story over the course of its runtime. And finally we have Tom Holkenborg (better known as Junkie XL) providing the background score to this frenzied action extravaganza who at first did seem like a risky choice but in the end, more than justifies his role by contributing with a soundtrack that keeps the film on the verge of detonation at all times with its adrenaline-rushing, pulse-pounding & dynamic tracks. As far as acting goes, Fury Road features an impressive ensemble led by Tom Hardy & Charlize Theron, and most of its supporting cast chips in with solid contributions. However, the only question that’s worth asking is if Hardy does justice to the iconic character that once belonged to Mel Gibson, or not!
Now Tom Hardy has been on the brink of stardom for quite sometime & this certainly is one role that can easily bridge the gap like it did for Mel Gibson decades ago. But Hardy here either tries too hard or too little for his screen presence is undeniably magnetic but his performance as Max isn’t ripe enough plus whatever accent he was aiming for never actually turns out to be convincing. Meanwhile, Charlize Theron delivers an absolutely badass performance as Furiosa & in many ways, she’s the real lead of the film. The guy who played Toecutter in the original Mad Max film returns to don the role of Immortan Joe and he does make up for an imposing villain as his inhuman attributes & god-like stature turns him all the more intimidating. Yet, the only character who undergoes any sort of spiritual incarnation is the War Boy, Nux, brilliantly played by Nicholas Hoult.
On an overall scale, Mad Max: Fury Road is a deranged masterpiece that does justice to both the Mad as well as the Max part of its title by pushing everything it has in store to its extreme and is undoubtedly the most complete, fully realised & unadulterated action flick of the past few decades. Within its opening 5 minutes, it tells the viewers everything they need to know about Max, including the world he’s drifting in, while the rest of its story can be viewed as one long continuous chase sequence that brims with adrenaline, fire & old-school vibe. The insanity, chaos & destruction it puts on the screen sets an all-new benchmark for action choreography & stunts in cinema that definitely won’t be easy to surpass for this picture is the most action-packed, viscerally thrilling & emotionally rewarding cinematic experience any action aficionado can hope for. Don’t miss it because if there’s one thing Mad Max: Fury Road guarantees, it’s that 2015 belongs to the mad!