September 7, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller, 2015
In this era of too many reboots, forced franchises and unnecessary sequels, Mad Max seems to come out of nowhere and surprise everyone by outdoing itself and it's predecessors. Fury Road takes the franchise out of cult status and gives it a fresh aesthetic while also preserving what made the original films appealing.

Tom Hardy is a good fit for the role of Max; the guy that you are supposed to learn a lot when given little about him. What you do know is he is a man haunted by his past, the lost souls that he wasn't able to save. Now the world that he wanders through is a dystopian wasteland, where the world is run by various warlord-led factions. In the early moments of the film the pacing is set and it doesn't slow down much for the duration. Someone who doesn't typically enjoy the action genre can still get something out of Fury Road, especially stylistically. There is so much visual invention going on, so much attention to detail. It seems to be a movie that probably took a lot of effort to film in the desert, from a logistical perspective but also from a pure engineering perspective. There is a wide array of vehicles assembled by the war dogs in the film. A good portion of the story is the variety of these war-mobiles in pure battle with each other whether it's to protect territory, gather resources, or retain what one feels is rightfully "theirs". It's interesting to think of how many mechanics must have been on set to help with any operational quirks that must have occurred here and there. Fury Road seems like a really good candidate for the dvd / blu-ray extra features of the behind the scenes footage and directors commentary. The grand scale of the films stunts / choreography seems almost unfathomable. While all of this chaos was in front of the cameras, there must have been boom lifts, helicopters and drones shooting frantically.

Miller's world is really a hot rod hellscape. At times it almost feels like a Steampunked Sin City. Filled with deranged and death-inducing drag racing. It's an unforgiving universe that nobody would really want to spend any time in other than in a voyeur role. In fact, one could argue that it's one of the dilemmas with the story. The sense of pointlessness to it. The fact that in this world there aren't really any "good guys". The Mad Max world shows us that our race has failed. Yet, at least for the sake of the Mad Max narrative, there is a level of human resilience. Many of the remaining inhabitants live to serve a leader, live with some kind of religious ideology. The warlords manage to keep a grip on their populations, usually by limited their resources like food or water. But there are still babies being born in this horrifying society. And they won't ever know what the world was like before everything was destroyed.

Complimenting the attention to visual detail, there is a real impressive use of sound. A great synergy of music to action, whether it's transitioning from a death to an ambient heartbeat in the song to the heavy metal guitarist that is riding on a flat bed with dozens of amplifiers raging behind him. Fury Road is chaotic yet managed. Energetic but not to the point of pure lunacy. It's a style over substance movie that manages to go so heavy on style that the imagery will take root in your mind for some time after. Out of all of the 2015 films, it's one that basically lives up to the hype. Now let's just hope that this doesn't start some trend of motor-heads souping up their Dodge Rams and putting all sorts of unnecessary equipment on the exterior to look like some kind of badass. Who knows, maybe Fury Road will inspire countries at war to have their own heavy metal guitarist standing on top of a tank or something to get the soldiers amped up. 

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