So…Mad Max: Fury Road. I can’t claim to have seen any of the previous installments of this franchise, despite the distributors going to such lengths in order to remind the general public of their greatness by re-releasing them everywhere. But, I’ve been told by a some well-versed sources that I didn’t need to be initiated by Mel Gibson and his post-apocalyptic adventures to enjoy George Millers latest offering. So if there’s any Mad Max enthusiasts hoping for an in-depth review of Fury Road through the guise of the series as a whole, look elsewhere. I just don’t care enough.
This film is odd. But I’m almost certain I enjoyed it. It’s a challenge to wrap your head around the opening gambits of hysteria that set the films tone. From a peaceful opening shot the overlooks the desert, our hero quickly crunches a two-headed (?) lizard beneath his foot and scoffs it. Then as he speeds away in some rusty-retro-stylised 4×4, a few angular, wretched sounding vehicles roar into shot and hastily pursue him. And from that point on, it’s just ceaseless, unforgiving mayhem.
Max (Tom Hardy, playing Mel Gibson) is captured by the Warboys who rule over the desolate Wasteland, and is chained to one of their vehicles as they make their way through, apparently his blood-type is a source of fuel for them, or something. This is a gang who have – at all times – an electric guitarist strapped to a vehicle specifically designed for purpose in order to provide a perennial soundtrack to their tyranny. They are not messing about.
Immortan Joe is the head of the Warboys, scantily controlling the water supply (“Do not become addicted to water, it will take hold of you and you will resent its absence”) and generally being an evil prick. Though you wouldn’t know it to look at him.
Eventually, our Max must team up with Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a defecting foot-soldier of Immortan Joe who is taking the Five Wives with her – Homeric models dressed in redundant rags that are being chased after for their milk.
This film is pulls no punches, it is just unashamedly bat-shit insane. That at no point, it seems, did the producers step in to at least query some of the plot-points, or trim some of the action set-pieces to a more palatable length is as much refreshing as it is beyond me.
Tom Hardy does his usual brooding intensity act, saying very little while telling a great deal. I’ve yet to see him put in a bad shift in a movie and can’t imagine I will anytime soon. Theron does nothing to diminish her status as one of the most under-rated actresses out there.
I don’t know how Mad Max fans will react to this film, but the general reaction seems to be fervent positivity so far. Hollywood doesn’t do original any more, so it’s good to see a reboot, sequel, whatever this is, be as uncompromising and unfiltered as this one is.
I was thinking of using Dredd as the reference point for whether people would enjoy this or not, but now I’m not too sure. Look, if you’re sick of Whedon’s candy-tongued hop-scotching heroes saving the world sarcastically, and instead want to see some proper gore with semi-bestial geriatrics getting their faces ripped clean off, go see Mad Max: Fury Road. You will be affected by it long after you leave the cinema, for better or worse.