Mad Max: Fury Road
“What a beautiful day!” How did director Miller possibly bring us Babe: Pig in the City (1998) and the Happy Feet films (2006 and 2011)?
Mad Max: Fury Road is the first great movie to be released in 2015. Director George Miller, who gave us the first three Mad Max films beginning in 1979, has brought Max roaring back to life in a futuristic world that is little more than an apocalyptic wasteland.
Mel Gibson played the original Mad Max, and Mr. Miller helped send him on a spectacular movie career that all but ended with his despicable anti-semitic diatribes. Ironically, Mr. Gibson evolved in real life from the symbol of Mad Max to that of Immortan Joe, the psychotic villain in this film played in grand style by Hugh Keays-Byrne.
Mr. Miller’s mesmerizing film reduces the recently released Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron to little more than lightweight entertaining films. In Mad Max: Fury Road, the special effects are both spectacularly original and mind numbingly captivating. A bloodbath of mystical proportions is ecstatically summarized by Nux, one of Immortan’s avenging angels, “What a beautiful day.”
With Earth reduced to a barren landscape resembling the moon, Max has only one goal, and that is to survive. From the opening scenes Thomas Hardy recreates Max as a guy of few words whose initial pursuit and capture is both overwhelmingly violent yet beautiful to behold. That is the true genius of Mr. Miller’s direction.
The last two-thirds of this brilliant movie is actually a chase scene where Immortan Joe and his gang of traveling fanatics are pursuing a woman known as Imperator Furiosa as she tries to flee in a large tanker truck. Furiosa is trying to help five young women escape from Immortan’s bondage where they existed as part of a harem designed to bear his children. Incensed that Furiosa is trying to help his “brides” escape, he unleashes a fury that makes the Pharoahs’ biblical pursuit of Moses look like child’s play.
Charlize Theron’s performance as Furiosa, which must be remembered at Oscar time, embodies a woman trying to flee unimaginable brutality as she tries to find protection in her distant homeland. Initially looking as if they are dressed for a cheap Vegas strip show, Furiosa and her five young cohorts soon form a nasty Band of Sisters. When you also consider that these girls are joined by a small group of older female survivors known as the Vuvalini, you soon see why Immortan learns the true meaning of the ancient phrase, “The bitch is back!”
It is giving nothing away to say that Max eventually escapes captivity and reluctantly joins Furiosa in her quest. He and his female accomplices are helped when Nux (Nicholas Hoult) leaves Immortan’s crew to join Furiosa after falling in love with one of the fleeing brides. Mr. Hoult is a joy to watch in every scene, and you really should take the time to hunt him down in two films released in 2013, Warm Bodies and Jack the Giant Slayer.
While Immortan is a loathsome jackel wearing a facial covering that makes him look like a hound from hell, give him credit for his love of music. When have you ever seen an army led into battle accompanied by large drums and a giant electric guitar being played on a souped-up attack vehicle?
Mr. Miller has again created a world where mankind has literally destroyed Earth’s environment. He doesn’t try to say how, but merely calls upon you to watch a society run by an amoral totalitarian regime resembling ISIS or Boco Haram in today’s world.
This is a rousing film where Max remains haunted by the previous loss of his wife and child and his growing attraction to Furiosa, a woman who seeks nothing other than redemption. Though drawn to each other, neither remains capable of love, as such a commitment is inconsistent with staying alive.