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Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

What He said:

He

Nobody seems to know whether this is a remake/reboot or a sequel. At one point, George Miller – director and creator of the franchise – said it was both. Sorry George, but that is simply not possible. He even admitted at one point that though he calls it a sequel to Beyond Thunderdome, that really doesn’t work. Still, he refused to call it a remake. Well, I’m calling it one. This is definitely a fresh start.  It’s a new interpretation of an old story; similar to how Battlestar Galactica 2004 was not connected to the older TV show.

The movie starts off with Max (Tom Hardy) being captured by a bunch of marauders who are known as the War Boys. They take him back their base of operations, shave him, tattoo his back – with is what is essentially a list of his vitals – and plan on using him as they see fit. They work for – more like worship – a guy named Immortan Joe, who is the tyrant who controls this part of the Wasteland.
Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Burne) is a cruel ruler who takes whatever he wants – including people – and uses it to maintain control over his community.  He takes gasoline so that he can control the roads and send out war parties to gather more supplies. He takes people like Max to use as blood banks, organ donors, etc. He takes women to…well, you know. The point being is that he’s not a nice person. He and his warrior class rule over the majority of survivors, who are weak and sickly. Oh yes, and he also poses as a god. He claims to be an immortal being who has returned to Earth to bring order to the Wasteland. His men are very loyal to him, as he has managed to convince them that if they serve him, they will have eternal life in Valhalla.

Fury Road

One of his “employees” is a gal known as Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Furiosa drives his War Rig, which is a huge armored truck that goes out in search of gasoline. Gas is like gold in the Mad Max world and she is viewed as a very important part of Joe’s operation. Furiosa has a plan though. She does not plan on returning from her next run. She has made a deal with another gang for safe passage through a canyon they control.

Joe is furious when he finds this out, especially when he realizes she took something of his. Joe leaves the safety of his compound in order to catch Furiosa and reclaim his “property”. The rest of the movie is basically him trying to catch her.

I didn’t forget about Max. Max is mostly certainly along for the ride. Remember how I mentioned earlier that he was being used as a blood donor? A sick War Boy named Nux (Nicoulas Hoult)is in the process of getting a blood transfusion when he and the rest of the War Boys get word of Furiosa’s attempted escape. Despite being sick, he decides to partake. He does not want to miss out on the opportunity to please his master. He’s still getting blood from Max though, so he straps him to his car at brings him along. Nux actually catches up with Furiosa, but is separated from the rest of his group.

Max is able to free himself from Nux’s imprisonment and reluctantly – Max is something of a loner – joins forces with Furiosa.

This movie is almost one big chase scene. That might sound unappealing in world where movies are riddled with too much CGI – and bad CGI at that. The good news is that a healthy chunk of the stunts in this movie are quite real. The giant sandstorm is CGI – and I don’t like the way it looks – as are some of the other effects, but fortunately they are mixed with practical effects and it looks great.

Fury Road

You might also think that much action sounds boring. I’m as big an action fan as the next guy who grew up in the 80s (the era’s heyday), but I agree with you. Action movies today suck for the most part. Nothing is a big deal anymore. The invention of CGI enables movie makers to do whatever they want. The problem is that it creates sequences that are just too big. There’s no tension or excitement when everything is the biggest explosion you’ve ever seen. Plus, a lot of it just looks so damn fake.

Plus, this movie was smart about the fact that most of it takes place on the road. It isn’t all action all the time. Even the scenes that focus on storyline and character development take place inside a moving vehicle. So, while the characters are almost always moving, you don’t have shit blowing up in your face all the time; thus negating the excitement of it. It gives you what you want, but it doesn’t sacrifice the quality or impact of it like so many action movies do.  And boy is the action good. Aside from that sandstorm – which I felt was a little over-the-top – the action in this movie was balls-out entertaining.

The performances are great too.

I have heard some complain that Tom Hardy was a little quiet as Max. I’m not really sure I get that complaint. Max is quiet. He is not a social butterfly. He is a loner who has lost is loved ones and spends the remainder of his life fighting to survive. He also tries to avoid people as much as possible. He will do the right thing if pressed, but he will go to great lengths to not get to that point. He is quiet, but as his time with Furiosa and the wives passes, he understand their cause, and he and Furiosa share a nice moment at the time. It’s surprisingly well-done. It’s not sappy at all, but you’re glad Max shows what little humanity he has left.

I know Max is the title character of the franchise, but I’ll be damned if Theron doesn’t steal the show. She is almost the main character. We get to know what drives her and she’s on-screen as much – if not more – than Max. She is a total bad-ass and you will definitely root for her. She is a good person trying to do the right thing in this absolutely horrible world they all live in. Dare I say this character ranks up there with Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor as one of the most kick-ass ladies on the big screen. I know it would be new territory for this franchise, but I wouldn’t mind a spinoff about her one bit. It might actually be a nice way to give a little longevity to this re-launched series.

Fury Road

Nicholas Hoult was also pretty good as Nux. I won’t say a whole lot, but his character arc was pretty good. He was given a good depth for a henchmen.

I wouldn’t say Immortan Joe was one of the all-time great movie villains, but that doesn’t mean he was bad at all. The Road Warrior pretty much owns the title of best villains as far as Mad Max movies go, but I found him to be more memorable than the rest of the villains from the series; including a separate character played by the same actor in the original Mad Max. Most tyrants in this type of role simply boss henchmen around. Not Joe. He hunted Furiosa and Max with complete and total obsession. They were not going to get away with his wives.

I don’t know all the names of the girls playing the wives – and I’m too lazy to look up all five of them – but I thought they were pretty good too. They were basically Joe’s play things that he used to having children with and cement his legacy. They’re victims. But as time goes on, they start to contribute more and help Furiosa and Max when necessary.

This movie also did a really good job of capturing the insanity and weirdness that populates the Mad Max universe. This is a world without rules or morals. There is slavery, sexual depravity – I’m fairly “whatever floats your boat”, but some of the characters in this world are just plain sick – insane car chases, people screaming, and all kinds of mayhem. It captures the one of the Mad Max universe very well and kicks it up a notch without taking it too far like far too many action movies nowadays. It’s a great mix of what we love about action that uses modern technology and techniques very well.

I was skeptical about this movie, but I ended up loving it. If you have a hankering for a good action movie, this is your cure. This is the best straight up action movie in years. See it in 2D though, the 3D is nothing special and actually detracts from viewing experience.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on May 27, 2015

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