Do not go and see this movie if you want to be informed. Do not go and see this movie if you’re looking for in depth reflections on society. Certainly do not go and see this film based on the presence of Tom Hardy alone. Go and see this film if you appreciate an art form that we thought was lost, the good action film. Go and see this film if you appreciate a visual spectacle that outdoes any of the cartoon CG silliness we get spoon fed these days. Go and see this film if…. Just see this film.
I’m not a Mad Max nut by any stretch if the imagination. I saw the original trilogy when I was a kid, I liked them, and that was it. I haven’t seen a single one as an adult. No reason except I just never thought to watch them. My main reason for stating this is that Fury Road serves a dual purpose – to serve as a continuation of the series and to be its own bat shit crazy eighties styled action film. I fall into the latter category, those going to it nearly entirely clueless of what sort of continuity we’re operating in. With that in mind, I should note that I had no problem diving into this film because, well, it doesn’t care about explanations.
From the first frame this is balls to the wall action, made all the more impressive when you discover that director George Miller insisted on keeping things real, up to eighty percent of the set pieces were achieved without the aid of CGI. This type of move can often be interpreted as a gimmick but dammed if it doesn’t all show on screen. Between practical effects and CGI we also get a tonne of matte/blue screen work (or at least a CGI creation of said effect) and it serves the film excellently to recapture the eighties vibe. This is a blockbuster summer flick with sped up video in shots, a crime in any other scenario but perfect here.
The plot is fairly plain Jane – Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is liberating the wives of big bad Immortan Joe (Hugh Keayes-Byrne) in order to safely relocate them in the Green Place, a supposed safe haven. Along the way, through an absurdly wonderful sequence of events, they end up taking Max (Tom Hardy) on board, initially as a somewhat aggressor but of course he comes around to the point of sympathiser. Who cares though really, it’s all just reason for things to drive fast and blow up. All that is important in Fury Road is the action and the performances. Though Hardy plays the title character and does so admirably (dodgy accent slips aside), it’s Theron’s movie for sure. For the first time in a long time we don’t get hit in the face with clunky exposition, all the leads convey more with their eyes than any dialogue could. There are things about this world and these people to be learned if you want to, but you need to see them because they won’t tell you.
I can’t see how this film could be a mainstream steam train success given that it’s a genre flick, but God I hope it finds enough of an audience for a sequel. The early numbers are promising, here’s hoping they stay that way. George Miller has returned to his roots with a level of success unobtainable by the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and others before. All at once this is Mad Max for the iPhone generation, whilst also having its feet planted firmly in the era it was born from. It’s just brilliant.