By Matthew Soall
Mad Max: Fury Road has been one of the most anticipated films since rumour spread of its production. Excitement only grew when studios threw more money at the film to improve the production after test audiences bowed down before its awesomeness. So going into this film, I had high hopes that it would be great, or at least good.
I was not disappointed.
The film starts in typical Mad Max fashion, some narration from Tom Hardy plays as the camera pans over Max taking a leak in the desert next to his famous Interceptor, which we sadly don’t get to see much of in the film. It becomes quickly apparent that Max is being pursued by scavengers. During a short crash scene, the scavengers capture Max to simply use him as a captive blood donor.
The film then begins to establish the setting starting with the rocky fortress of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), complete with crops for food, a deep bore for water (used to control the population), and a deeply-disturbing milk farm scene.
It’s around this point in the film that we are introduced to Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is tasked with transporting water to Gas Town. During what is supposed to be a typical water haul, Furiosa changes course unexpectedly and Immortan Joe and his scavengers pursue. In the lead of the pursuit is Nux (Nicholas Holt), who has dragged Max along as a mobile “blood bag” to treat his leukaemia.
To say anymore would spoil the film and if you have read any of my previous reviews you’d know that it isn’t my style. So let’s take a look at the production side of Mad Max Fury Road. If you know your Mad Max films, you would know that this is the first thing starring Mel Gibson, set in Australia. As an Australian, these films are important because they are part of our national heritage. So I was a little concerned when I heard about so much American casting for the film. Especially Charlize Theron who is as American as apple pie (with South African heritage). But to my relief, the Australiana flavour to this film series is left intact. Theron is the only actor in the piece who retains her American accent, which helps to distinguish her Furiosa character from the rest of the cast.
Fury Road was mostly filmed in the Namibian desert with some scenes shot in Australia. This was due to the fact that Broken Hill, the previous films’ location, had turned to grass and flowers after flooding in Australia. The Namibian desert is a great location for an apocalyptic road film and it does feel like it fits with the rest of the film series. Most Australians won’t even know it wasn’t set in Australia; I did but it doesn’t detract from the film.
George Miller, the original progenitor of the Mad Max saga, sets his apocalypse film apart from most others with his stark use of colours. Where most apocalypse films use a sepia toned or over exposed colour scheme, Miller uses greens, reddyish browns and various blues to distinguish his film from the pack. It helps keep the audience engaged, as 2 hours of desert can be grating on audience eyeballs.
The machines used throughout the film harken back to classic Mad Max. People power everything in this world except the cars, lifts and pullies are utilised to a fair extent to give the effect that this world has moved back to a medieval age.
The cars are fantastic, and you get to see a few different styles thrown into the mix. Some are covered in rusty spikes like echidnas, some are super-powered hotrods, while other vehicles are designed for maximum damage. A lot of creativity has gone into designing each vehicle and it shows.
The actors all give serviceable portrayals in the film. Hardy’s Max is distant and at times bewildered and frantic in his actions, an obvious nod to his Post-traumatic Stress caused by the death of his family and countless friends along the path. Hardy maintains a decent Australian accent throughout, and I think this will help audiences adjust to the new Max.
Charlize Theron portrays a well-rounded character. Good writing gave Theron a lot to chew on, and she had the acting chops to bring it all to the screen. Furiosa is a strong, intelligent women with no corny or over-emotional lines that female characters often get lumped with. Theron’s portrayal is one of the best in the film, as she is the real lead character of the movie.
One of the surprising performances came from Nicholas Hoult as Nux. Not only does he put on a really decent Australian accent, but his frantic movements and the way he carries himself make him very believable in his role as a zealot rev-head. He also has some interesting moments in the film when he loses his faith, only to be reborn as a protector. It’s very interesting character work and Hoult doesn’t disappoint.
The other characters in the film are serviceable, the main villain Immortan Joe is just the bad guy, nothing more really, some might say a “cookie cutter villain,” but it is all this film needs, really. I would have liked it if he had presented a more real danger to the group at large, but when the rest of the film works so well, it’s something you’ll forgive as an audience member.
Mad Max: Fury Road does something that late sequels fail to do, and that’s honour what came before whilst creating something new and enjoyable. Mad Max is now the bench mark for films like Terminator Genisys and Jurassic World to reach, with its amazing production and fantastic cast. Do yourself a favour and visit the wasteland one more time.
For a more in-depth review, you can listen to our podcast review here.