“Mad Max: Fury Road” is a work of art. Are you ready for the hype train, because it’s coming! Tackling the film seven months after my initial viewing has given me a new appreciation for what George Miller accomplished. Spending over three years, using Brendan McCarthy’s illustrations and successfully replacing Mel Gibson has produced a film for the ages. But, what matters more about it? The strong female lead, the growing even dimmer nature of the Wasteland or Miller producing the strongest action film of the last thirty years?
Seriously, people…it’s going to be the most Oscar nominated action films since Aliens. Get ready for the thinkpieces and eventual backlash. George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, John Seale and Junkie XL have created a modern masterpiece. I don’t throw that term around loosely, as I still believe it maintains a certain weight in the cinema that should never be diminished. Action cinema has always been unfairly maligned among the critical elite, as they felt it catered too much to the popcorn crowd. Well, there’s art among the popcorn and it’s about time it was recognized. John Ford, Michael Curtiz, William Wyler and Sam Peckinpah all understood this and I can now say that I put George Miller safely in their ranks.
After making penguin movies for a few years, I was starting to think that Miller had lost his touch. I have never been so happy to be wrong. More than anything, learning that kinetic musical timing of Mumbles’ tap dancing and applying it to mechanized mayhem is pure cinema. For what is a major chase than a well choreographed dance? Tom Hardy swinging back and forth on that tension pole, the cars hitting the sand storm, the guitar player of flame and that giant fire tornado all hit me as purely musical moments. Kubrick used to view cinema as music and I never got what he meant in his writings on the matter until now.
Tom Hardy plays his Max differently and that’s to be expected. This is a man who regardless of imagined reboot/revamp/whatever has been left to die emotionally and mentally in the Wasteland. His family is gone, his job means nothing and all he has is that classic car. Even that is fleeting, as Max learns that survival is all that matters. Loss permeates every inch of this movie, as when you have a band of losers trying to get a win for once…material possession means nothing when compared to a fading grasp of dignity.
What makes the film work is its commitment to forcing a hyper sense of reality upon the viewer. The incredibly minimal use of CG is appreciated and it’s nothing more than what I would expect from this movie. Still, I think about those chases and stunts a lot now. How did no one get killed? There is some crazy modern twists on stuff that would’ve stocked the bodies three high in the Silent Era. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited after a movie and I’m more than likely going to run that feeling straight into the ground with repeat viewings.
“Fury Road” will succeed not by Box Office, but by its legacy. While I hate the fighting between the Internet cause whiners and the subhuman scum that gives them a reason to exist, I appreciate that this film is daring people to embrace female revenge against the establishment. It could’ve been so easy for Miller to slip back into Ozploitation mode, but he dared to create a tale that said more. When men become desperate and the world dies, why wouldn’t some of the worst men on Earth turn women into commodities? The loss of humanity and the desire to reclaim it runs underneath the amazing car stunts in the film. The fact that such a serious topic got slipped into a summer movie is astounding. I’ve got nothing but respect for all of the talents involved and I hope that it’s not another three decades before we get to return to the Wasteland.
RELEASE DATE: 5/15/2015