Cinema Siren reviews Fury Road and includes interviews with Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, director George Miller, and Nicholas Hoult.
Those who love the Mad Max franchise will love it, those who hate car chase movies, but love arty, intense films will love it too. Why? Find out in this review.
Here is the written transcript of the review:
Mad Max: Fury Road is going to crush the box office like a war-rig. Maybe you’ve heard the superlative reviews and wonder if this new release actually lives up to the hype. Let me start by saying I have never seen the original Mad Max movies, and I am about as far away from a car chase movie fan as possible. I had zero interest in Death Race 2000 or Duel, as much as they both have their devotees.
I AM, however, a big fan of three actors that George Miller, director of Mad Max: Fury Road, who also directed the original Mad Max in 1979, chose for this reinvigorated representation of his imagined world. In his choices for actors, and the production team with which he surrounded himself for Mad Max: Fury Road, he all but assured to himself this restart would not only be successful, it would blow the minds of action film fans and movie lovers starved for something truly special, something passionately made, something that would stand the test of time going forward. and Yes. He did that. See Mad Max: Fury Road. See if i’m wrong. I’m not.
The story is based in an post-apocalyptic world where the very bad Immortan Joe controls water, and everything else, to a populous used to fighting for the least scrap or personal comfort. Most are either starving, or suffering from some form of radiation poisoning. None of this is overtly unfolded as storyline per se, but the audience sees women being forced to breastfeed into tubes, young bald and brainwashed workers forced into dangerous physical tasks, and those in power tightly controlling the mass release of the most basic necessities like water. Max (Tom Hardy) has been captured, treated like an animal, and is being used as a human “blood bag”. War-tank driver Imperitor Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron is sent out to get supplies, but escapes with 5 of Joe’s young “wives”, although really they are sex slaves kept for breeding. Through a series of circumstances, Max joins forces with them to stay ahead of Joe and his posse. Nux, played by Nicholas Hoult, is one of the lowly drivers in Joe’s huge army called war boys, who revel in being used by him, often to death.
Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, and Nicholas Hoult, are, in my estimation, three of the best and most magnetic actors working today. What they have in common is a fearless passion for placing themselves in films that expand their landscapes as actors. None of these three play it safe, and all have growing filmographies that show the wide diversity of genres and characters they take on. Each push their own envelope here, and it’s exciting to see each of them do it, and then come together to ignite their commitment against each other. As Max, Tom Hardy uses his the grunts, meaningful looks, and the physicality he has crafted for his character, who is tortured by visions of his lost loved ones. He talks here about his character and how he plays him:
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa gets to play one of the best roles for women in an action film ever, and she is up to the task. We never forget she’s a woman, but that she is so capable, fearless, and determined is just part of who she is, not her gender. We need more movies with roles for women like this one.
Indeed, there is a strong women-centered aspect to Fury Road, but it isn’t a feminist movie so much as it George Miller examining women 3 dimensionally in a post apocalyptic world. Fortunately it doesn’t take the form of thinly veiled misogyny represented by movies like Soylent Green, where we discover women are furniture and we learn nothing more of them. In Fury Road their lessor brute strength may put them at a decided disadvantage, but they find other creative ways to fight for what they want. The way the women of the film are imagined, wholly formed but not hyperbolic, makes their womanhood only a small part of their story. Theron’s Furiosa is the leader of these archetypes… Women who are virgin, mother, crone, and sometimes all three at once. Furiosa is one-armed, entirely feminine, yet entirely well equipped to take care of herself.
Nicholas Hoult has the widest character arc playing Nux, as a dying kid who seeks to go out in style. He started out as an child actor in About A Boy, and he grows as an actor with each new movie. As Nux he is showing he can further diversify what sorts of roles he can take on. He certainly looks to have crawled fully into Nux’s skin, and thereby brings the audience along with him on his journey, for better or worse. He says the enthusiasm onset was infectious:
With such limited dialogue, it’s impressive how they express to the audience such compelling characters. Connecting with them and rooting and hoping for their survival and success becomes a major part of what makes the film enjoyable. Additional actors like Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe, who was in the original Mad Max, and Melissa Jaffer as Keeper of the Seeds, are most memorable, the first as a sort of human nightmare, and the second as the ultimate wise yet badass crone.
One of the best aspects of the movie is it doesn’t reveal backstory of any of the characters, beyond haunting split second flashbacks. Their histories really don’t matter. A great device, it reminds us that…any one of us might become one of them, given the right series of circumstances.
Fury Road was filmed on location in Namibia, with very little green screen for special effects. It is, shot for shot, gloriously laid out, as if each moment represents a fully formed painting, as if each shot had been planned right down to storyboards, inventively and passionately shot to create images that speak visually before they telegraph the storyline. Then the action is so exciting, one forgets about the visuals, only to be reminded by a particularly gorgeous bit of design. For that alone, Fury Road must be seen more than once. The reason for this is George Miller co-wrote the screenplay with artist and animator Brendan McCarthy as a visual story, and used storyboard artist Mark Sexton to create a 3,500 panel storyboard that visually build the film moment by moment. Those storyboards became the map for Oscar winning director of photography John Seale and production designer Colin Gibson on their journey to create a film so sumptuous, it constantly surprises.
What Fury Road is, must be the sort of action film spectacle every director hopes for when they dream of working behind the lens of a big budget Hollywood film. Arty, gorgeous, exciting, compelling, and poignant all at once. I’d see it tonight again if I could. I hope it makes a mint and breaks records. It certainly deserves to. Everyone involved deserves to say “oh what a lovely day”
5 out of 5 stars.