Mad Max Fury Road Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Back in 1979, an Australian writer/director named George Miller created a little story about a man living in a post-apocalyptic world, and after having lost his wife and child, seeking revenge on the people responsible for their deaths. This little film was titled Mad Max, and also introduced us to a young actor named Mel Gibson. Following the success of Mad Max, a sequel and a third film were released. And now, some 36 years later, and minus one Mel Gibson, Miller has once again brought the title hero back to the big screen in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is a man of few words, trying to find some sanctuary in this desert world where the remaining inhabitants struggle for even the most basic of human needs: water. Max is picked up by a gang of warriors ruled by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who controls the water and thus the people. But one of his best soldiers, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), has other plans. She believes if she can escape and make it back to her homeland, there will be plenty of water and salvation for her. She takes with her the four women Joe holds most dear. But, with Max’s help, Furiosa sees that she can outrun and defeat Joe. But in such a harsh world where Joe isn’t the only enemy, will Max be enough?

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Mad Max: Fury Road is similar to the old Mad Max films and it is different. We still have the world that is thrust in desert, giving us a blunt perspective on the harshness these people live in. This time around, it seems just about everyone in this world is evil to some extent, expressing a darker side of humanity, one that comes out when it is survival of the fittest. Another aspect that is similar, or exactly the same, is the outcome. We know how things are going to end as we’ve seen it before. What is different is that, this time around, the film is one long chase sequence, pretty much from the beginning to the end. And when I say one long chase sequence, I mean there are few times when the characters stop moving forward to rest. It’s literally one big action/chase sequence and it gets old really fast. There’s only so much desert and nothingness we can look at without any character development or plot expansion before we start getting bored unless, that is, you’re a fan of long, straight action sequences with little else in terms of substance.

Characters drive a film. Unfortunately for Mad Max: Fury Road, the characters are paper thin with minimal motivation driving them forward, giving the actors little to work with in terms of material. Tom Hardy plays the lead role and you can probably count on your fingers and toes how many words he speaks throughout the course of the film. Sure, we get that he’s dealing with his inner demons still, but having the title character – the character this whole series is based on – speak so little, really hurts the drive of the film. Charlize Theron has her motivation, and that’s to make it to her home land. That’s as far as her character goes until the top of the final act when the motivation changes. Hugh Keays-Byrne is just there to get his girls back from Furiosa, and maybe kill her for insubordination. Nicholas Hoult plays the role of Nux, one of Immortan Joe’s lackeys who has a change of heart half way through. Still not much material to work with for Hoult, but he does have a few nice moments.

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Mad Max: Fury Road is hard to sustain due to its never-ending settings and less than ideal cinematography. There’s only so much one can do given the source material. Maybe there was a reason the film was stopped after three films back in the 1980’s. Did the story need to be revisited, especially considering the current generation of moviegoers may know little to nothing of the originals? Apparently Miller thought so. And not to say the action is bad, as it is entertaining and an adrenaline rush. It also brings back memories of the older Mad Max films at times, but there is just too much missing for this to be more than summer action “go big or go home” fodder. Will it be a success financially? Probably. I mean, it isn’t devoid of a history or followers. But will it be as great as people think or anticipate? Probably not. If you’re going to see Mad Max: Fury Road for more than just pure action, prepare to be disappointed. If not, then enjoy!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


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