Saturday, May 30, 2015
Mad Max: Fury Road
Directed by George Miller and written by Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, Mad Max: Fury Road is the story of a drifter in a desert wasteland as he helps a woman flee from a cult leader who is trying to retrieve his wives. The film is another post-apocalyptic film where it is set in a desert world as Max Rockatansky is in another adventure as he is joined by a mysterious woman in a world that is completely chaotic. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Courtney Eaton, and Hugh Keays-Byrne. Mad Max: Fury Road is an astonishing grand and enthralling film from George Miller.
Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where civilization is on the bring of extinction, the film revolves around a survivor who is captured by a cult as he finds himself in a chase after a truck driver steals a cult leader’s group of wives as he would later help them find freedom. It’s a film that where the character of Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is once again trying to find something in his life as he remains haunted by failures and loss. All of that sense of encounter of terror and chaos forces him to fend for himself and go on his own where he eventually finds a reason to do something in helping this rogue truck driver named Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is trying to drive to her old homeland with the wives of the cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).
The film’s screenplay doesn’t carry a lot of exposition nor does it have a lot of dialogue though it does open with some bits of exposition of where Max had been through for so many years as he is just a survivor. He is constantly haunted by the image of a child he was unable to save as he is first seen captured by a sickly group of young men in white known as War Boys who are part of Joe’s cult. Since Max has blood that can help some of these boys, he is attached to one of them in Nux (Nicholas Hoult) who wants to impress Joe as he joins them on the chase with Max in tow. Yet, the screenplay showcases exactly what the world has come to where Joe has complete control of the water where the people could only get as little as possible while gasoline and milk. Joe also treats people as slaves including women which is a big reason why his five brides are fleeing him and ask Furiosa to drive them away from Joe. Once Max learns what Furiosa is doing, he isn’t sure if he should trust her but realizes what is at stake.
Part of the script’s success isn’t in the fact that there’s an element of feminism that isn’t heavy handed but also reveals that these five wives of Joe are real characters that all have something to say as they’re sick and tired of being objectified and used as slaves. Most notably in a shot where one of the brides is trying to get a chastity underwear out as another one is using bolt-cutters to unchain her. During this chase where Max and Furiosa are taking turns in driving this massive war rig, the script allows these women to be fleshed out as they all want something where they are able to live good lives. The film’s third act isn’t just about these characters trying to reach the destination but also wonder if there is a world where there is hope as Max would be the one to give Furiosa an idea and help her as if they are partners without the need to make out or have sex.
George Miller’s direction is very grand not just for the setting he creates for the film but also in the way he stages the chase scenes and the sense of chaos that surrounds it. Shot on location in Namibia as well as parts of Australia, the locations set in the deserts, swamps, canyons, and mountains do serve a purpose as it establishes a world that is very unforgiving and with a sense of the unknown. Since it is largely a chase film that goes throughout the desert, Miller does use a lot of wide shots to capture the vast look of the locations where it does play into something that feels like a post-apocalyptic world where civilization doesn’t exist. Even as Miller knows how to put his actors in a frame and be part of this vast location where they feel like they’re lost and trying to find something.
The direction also has an element of realism in the way the chase scenes are presented as well as the cars and trucks that are used where Miller definitely goes for an old-school approach of using actual effects rather than heavily rely on computer-based visual effects with the exception of a few scenes. Miller’s usage of close-ups and medium shots do play into the sense of a community trying to come together and help each other as well as stand up for something in a world where order has ceased to exist. Even as it would lead into this extravagant climax where so much is at stake while it is not afraid to delve into moments that are scary but also engaging. Overall, Miller creates an intense yet monstrous film about a drifter who aid a group of women to find hope in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Cinematographer John Seale does brilliant work with the film‘s very exotic and vibrant cinematography with its emphasis on the sunny desert look to play into its location along with some usage of blue-filters for some scenes at night with some inspiring lighting cues in the film as it among one of the film‘s technical highlights. Editor Margaret Sixel does amazing work with the editing by not just playing into the sense of chaos that occurs with some fast-cutting but also know when to slow it down for the non-action scenes and using fade-outs to help structure the story. Production designer Colin Gibson, with art directors Shira Hockman and Jacinta Leong and set decorators Katie Sharrock, Lisa Thompson, and Gena Vazquez, does incredible work with the set design from the look of the Citadel canyons where Joe runs his cult as well as the design of the trucks and cars that occurs through the chases.
Costume designer Jenny Beaven does excellent work with the clothes from the look of Joe and his gang as well as the other cults to the bridal-look of Joe’s wives. Hair/makeup designer Lesley Vanderwalt does fantastic work with the look of the characters from the war boys to the look of Joe as well as the hair and makeup of their cult. Visual effects supervisors Andrew Jackson and David Nelson do superb work with the look of the grand winds and tornados along with creatures as they keep things to a minimum in order to play into more practical effects. Sound designers Christopher S. Aud, Julian Slater, and David White, along with sound editors Scott Hecker, Mark A. Mangini, and Wayne Pashley, do phenomenal work with the sound to play into the sense of terror that looms over the film as well as some of the music that is played on location from Joe‘s cult including a guitarist with a guitar that is also a flamethrower. The film’s music by Junkie XL is spectacular with its mix of bombastic beats and orchestral flourishes along with elements of guitars and electronics to play into the chaos and thrill of the chases.
The casting by Nikki Barrett and Ronna Kress is wonderful as it features some notable small roles from Joy Smithers, Gillian Jones, Megan Gale, and Jennifer Hagan as a group of women Furiosa knows, Melissa Jaffer as a woman who has provided a source for the future that one of the wives befriends, John Howard and Richard Carter as a couple of ruthless gang leaders, Nathan Jones as Joe’s strongman son Rictus Erectus, and Josh Helman as Nux’s fellow war boy Slit. In the roles of the five wives, Courtney Eaton is terrific as the more scared Cheedo the Fragile who often thinks about going back to Joe for safety while Abbey Lee Kershaw is superb as the Dag who connects with one of the old women in its third act as she would also start to yearn for something that might bring some hope.
Zoe Kravitz is excellent as Toast the Knowing as a wife who aids Max in reloading the weapons and often observes everything Riley Keough is fantastic as Capable who would befriend Nux while being the one who can help fix the truck. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is amazing as The Splendid Angharad as a wife of Joe who is pregnant as she is the one in most danger as she is eager to not have a child that would become a slave or a warlord like her husband. Hugh Keays-Byrne is brilliant as Immortan Joe as this cult leader who rules the wasteland as he goes on a chase to retrieve his wives and ensure his legacy.
Nicholas Hoult is marvelous as a sick war boy named Nux who is trying to prove his loyalty to Joe as he endures many situations where he proves to be a reliable person for Max and Furiosa. Charlize Theron is phenomenal as Imperator Furiosa as this rig truck driver with a prosthetic left arm that decides to defy Joe and do what is right without the need to explain herself as it’s a very chilling yet enthralling performance that has Theron be a full-on badass. Finally, there’s Tom Hardy in a remarkable performance as Max Rockatansky as a drifter who finds himself in a troubling situation as he struggles to find some good and meaning in his life as Hardy largely gives a silent performance with few words while not afraid to be overshadowed as he and Theron act as total equals that deliver and more.
Mad Max: Fury Road is an outstanding film from George Miller that features top-of-the-line performances from Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. Along with a great supporting cast, spectacular stunts and special effects, enthralling music, and dazzling visual effects. It is a film that doesn’t just act as a full-on action blockbuster that entertains but does so much more as it manages to be a feminist film without the need to say anything big. In the end, Mad Max: Fury Road is an astounding and rapturous film from George Miller.
George Miller Films: Mad Max - (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior) - (Twilight Zone: The Movie-Nightmare at 20,000 Feet) - (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) - (The Witches of Eastwick) - (Lorenzo’s Oil) - (40,000 Years of Dreaming) - (Babe: Pig in the City) - (Happy Feet) - (Happy Feet Two)
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