Nearly 30 years after Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and three years after it began filming, Mad Max: Fury Road has finally been unveiled to a new generation of movie-goers…and the wait has been worth it!
Mad Max: Fury Road is the 2015 post-apocalyptic action film directed, produced and co-written by George Miller. It’s the fourth film in the Mad Max franchise, and it’s being deemed not only the best of the franchise but one of the best action films to date. Fury Road stars Tom Hardy as “Mad” Max Rockatansky, replacing Mel Gibson for the title role. Gibson initially signed on to the project back in the early 2000s, but lost interest when the project was dropped due to filming complications in the Middle East; Miller admit that the actor change was preferable as he wanted Max to remain a younger character as the same “contemporary warrior”.
The action-heavy flick is set in the distant future where water and fuel are scarce, and civilization is ruled by the malevolent dictator Immortan Joe. Immortan Joe’s tranquility is interrupted when Furiosa (Charlize Theron) helps a handful of his sex slaves escape the Citadel to gain their freedom. On their way to the matriarchal promised land, the women encounter Max on the road, who becomes involved in the search for the promised land with Immortan Joe’s road warrior minions in hot pursuit.
On the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film is “Certified Fresh” with a 98% approval rating and an average score of 8.7/10 based on 258 reviews. The site’s consensus reads, “With exhilarating action and a surprising amount of narrative heft, Mad Max: Fury Road brings George Miller’s post-apocalyptic franchise roaring vigorously back to life.”
Anyone familiar with the Mad Max franchise knows certain components of this post-apocalypic world are guaranteed: over-the-top car chases, daring stunts, macho cars and the patriarch behind it all–Max Rockatansky. As someone unfamiliar with the Mad Max movies, I wanted to compose my top reasons to see this film from an outsiders perspective.
The Action and Effects
As someone usually completely disinterested in eruptions of fire, CGI explosions and mad-crazy action, Fury Road was quite a surprise–it actually held my interest from start to finish! But what makes this action-infused adventure enjoyable is the minimal CGI use and the overwhelming sense of wasteland reality.
According to director George Miller, CGI was predominantly used to “remove stunt wires and car rigs and touch up the look of the surrounding environment–that aside, the stunts are mostly all real.
“We were desperate for it to be real. Fast & Furious 7 is all CG. The cars are shiny and pretty, but there’s not much physics in there: they do things that cars can’t do. And the minute you do that, you suspend belief, you make it less real and the hairs on the back of your neck don’t go up. So our plan was always to make it completely real. The stunt guy and I used to say we were making the last real, live stunt-action film. We gave Nux [Nicholas Hoult] every boy’s hot-rod dream – a 1932 Chevy five-door coupé, and then we had to weaponise it. We built five versions of it so there was one built just to go in reverse, one to slot into other vehicles, and so on. Nicholas was a great driver. I promised we’d get him a motorbike, but I think we wiped most of them out.” George Miller via Shortlist.com
Nicholas Hoult as Nux
The unrecognizable Nicholas Hoult is absolutely mental! As the overly-scarred and tumored war boy slave of Immortan Joe, Nux is one of the greatest scene stealers of the movie. The chrome-loving nutcase has a change of heart in his quest to capture Immortan Joe’s freed sex slaves, which makes him all the more likable with some of the most character depth and development in the movie.
In an article by The Guardian, “When Miller wrote the script in 1999, he conceived of Hoult’s character as a quasi kamikaze pilot. Then the film got stuck in development hell after the dollar crashed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Today, he’s careful not to be drawn too far on the contemporary echoes. The concept of a glorious battle death resulting in entry to warrior paradise is age-old, he says. ‘Now we have another rendering of that, but it’s been a constant’ while Joe’s kingdom is, ‘like all cults, invented to get people to die on your behalf’. Theron, too, steers clear of generalisation. ‘Everybody’s looking for a sliver of hope and for most of these boys that’s the only thing they have. That’s where their worth is. Very much a reflection of what’s going on in the world.'”
Max Isn’t the Main Character
To most viewers surprise, myself included, Max isn’t the predominant focus of the film, nor is he doing the majority of ass-kicking–Furiosa is! What’s great about this movie twist is that not only is Furiosa the star of the film, but she proves that women can lead with men as their sidekicks.
“At first, my character was going to be ghostlike and albino. And then I thought it would be stronger to shave my head. I called George [Miller] and told him my plan. He went silent, which I thought was a good sign. So I borrowed some clippers and buzzed it all off. I’m not a fan of scrawny little girls pretending to kick butt in movies; I just don’t buy it. And I hate those moments in movies where the tiniest little arms are hitting a guy who is four times her size and we are supposed to believe it. Because I have such broad shoulders and a broad back, other than toning, I don’t usually want to enhance my upper body, but obviously on this movie I did. Towards the end of the movie I could bench press a lot, but I probably could not walk up a flight of stairs, because I had so neglected the bottom part of my body. I was a little bit like Popeye – just weird strong muscles here and nothing down there.” Charlize Theron via Telegraph
“Only George Miller has the weird sensibilities to make a Mad Max movie, a movie about the post-apocalypse, about the drying up of resources, about the desperate need to survive even when the whole world is dying, but also a movie that’s funny and weird and lighthearted sometimes. The point is – thank the lord he’s still making movies. And more importantly, thank the lord he’s making this sequel.
It would behoove Hollywood to take note and learn a thing or two from Miller when it comes to making decades-late sequels like the fourth Mad Max. It’s all about mixing the old and the new without leaning too heavily on one or the other. Fury Road looks about as authentically Mad Max as possible – the car chases, the tone, et cetera – and yet it’s not an exercise in nostalgia. It has a power and uniqueness all its own, one that stands out in a year full of hugely-anticipated movies like The Avengers 2, James Bond 24, and Star Wars 7. That’s pretty damn impressive, if you ask me.” via Forbes
The leading ladies of the film, both young and grandma’s age, are certainly not “things” nor are they anyone you’d want to mess with in this movie. Even grandma kicks ass with a shotgun! You’d think this troupe of actresses and models would play second fiddle to the main cast, but they hold their own next to the powerful Furiosa.
George Miller arranged for Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues, to fly in and work with the girls for about a week.
“I read the script and was blown away. One out of three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime—it’s a central issue of our time, and that violence against women relates to racial and economic injustice. This movie takes those issues head-on. I think George Miller is a feminist, and he made a feminist action film. It was really amazing of him to know that he needed a woman to come in who had experience with this. George was looking to create empowered women, not victims, and I think he accomplished that. I don’t remember seeing so many women of all different ages in any movie before. I was really blown away by the older women in the film who were just as good fighters as the men. I’d never seen that before. They all have so much agency and independence. Charlize’s character is also really fierce. But at the same time, she’s compassionate. And that’s a hard thing to pull off. All the women felt full in terms of their backstory. Even something subtle like their clothes in the film: they’re stripped down and vulnerable and objectified in the beginning. By the end, they have their clothes on. They’ve taken their bodies back and themselves back in some essential way.” Eve Ensler via Time
But fans of the original trilogy shouldn’t worry. There’s more than my top five reasons to see Mad Max–these are just my highlights of the much-anticipated 21st century sequel to the franchise. Anticipate hearing more about this movie come Oscar season…it may be George Miller’s year for some recognition…or at least more accolades for Charlize Theron!