A Fearless Action Movie, 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Boasts Real Cinematic Intelligence
Ferocious, vivid, energetic and supercharged. Mad Max: Fury Road does exactly what it sets out to do: deliver impressive action set-pieces with unbridled stunt work as its decoration.
Hardy's heroic incarnation
As viewers we are unsure as to whether Fury Road is a sequel, a prequel or a stand alone film in the Mad Max world. Whatever it may be, Fury Road is just as good, if not better, than the movies that inspired it. In 1981, director George Miller gave the world Mad Max — a forward thinking movie that broke conventions. It was one of Mel Gibson’s most memorable performances and made him a star. Without Gibson as the driving force, some thought Fury Road lost its soul, but Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Bronson) gives the role of Max a fresh, more heroic incarnation.
Fury Road doesn't ignore the world Miller created in the previous three movies, if anything, it acknowledges their conceptions. It proves there was a void and a sense of incomplete to the boundaries of its story and this group of characters. Hardy stars alongside Charlize Theron (Monster, Prometheus), who gives a performance that's precise, and offers the story a level headed thinker in a broken society, whilst Hardy gives the film its raw energy – a characteristic Hardy is particularly competent in delivering.
Best of all, this movie is occupied by a real cinematic intelligence. The audience isn't contradicted or fooled. We're provoked yet stimulated and we share an enthusiasm about figuring out how moments flourish and unravel in such a complexed environment, when so often audiences are only needed as yielding viewers.
On the surface Fury Road’s aesthetic and narrative border the dimensions of strange, yet Miller manages to bring a sense of logic to the extreme world of survival that Max Rockatansky embodies. The characters are not merely scavengers of oil and power, but are now creatures of circumstance. They either scrape around for one desired need or are left without a choice in reason. Fury Road has a violent overtone that floats in and out, yet it doesn't lean on it to dictate its attitude. Violence is a fun thing to watch, but when handled correctly and not sent down the road of overkill, it's a beautiful way to accent the crescendos of a story.
Hardy’s vision for Max doesn't beat to the same drum as Gibson's Max. Rather, Max is now a character driven by the memories of his sins and is determined to survive. He walks with the ghosts of those he couldn't save, and the supporting cast of misfits who try to eradicate him, bring out a more forward thinking Max. This more sympathetic version works within the context of what Fury Road is trying to be. It's a well thought out concept that allows us to engage with Max, and the addition of Theron gives us even more reason to relive his haunted memories.
Mad Max: Fury Road is a fearless action movie that surprisingly boasts intellect for movie so bluntly unashamed of what it is. It's a rock opera of vivid imagination, incredible characterisations and expert set design. It's dream like, yet brutal as a kick in the teeth. It's sparse use of dialogue also works, in particular with Hardy who utters maybe a dozen lines throughout. However, when scenes feature sustained moments of speech they teeter out and become almost parodies of similar movies. But heavy dialogue isn’t why we watch entertainment such as this. We watch to be taken on a rip soaring ride of furious entertainment, and that's exactly what Mad Max: Fury Road gives us.