Now that 3D is becoming somewhat passé, I know some cinemas have been experimenting with 4D effects: moving seats, smells, effects, etc. Mad Max: Fury Road would be an excellent demo film for this. But they would need to spray so many gallons of gasoline, water, blood, amniotic fluid, etc at the audience it would never be cost effective!
Max Mad: Fury Road is the fourth in the Mad Max series, but you don’t need to have watched any of the others to enjoy this one.
The world is in a state of post-nuclear apocalypse and ex-cop Max Rocktansky (Tom Hardy) is haunted by the faces of his nearest and dearest that he couldn’t save. Captured by baron leader Imortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), Max is dragooned to be an unwilling blood donor to sick young warrior and zealot Nux (Nicholas Hoult, several light years away from Marcus in “About a Boy”). Showing no regard for transfusion hygiene, Max is strapped – still “leaking” – to the bowsprit of Nux’s war vehicle as he pursues a death-wish in honour of his glorious leader. His mission is to help bring back Imortan’s harem of beauties, rescued by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and now haring down the titular highway in a fuel tanker in search of the “Green Place”; a location across the Australian desert that has special meaning for her.
Thus is set up a road-chase of epic proportions which will result in much loss of blood (not to say a driving licence ban if any cops caught them!).
It’s difficult to describe in a review just what an adrenaline-fuelled and maniacal film this is. It starts at a breathless pace and you think “OK – so far – so Michael Bay”. It’s when Max catches up with the bevy of beauties and Furiosa (who seems ‘armless enough, arf) and a thrilling and frantic cat/dog fight ensues for control of the tanker that you realise you have stepped into something of an entirely different class. Another reviewer aptly described it by saying that it “begins at an eleven and finishes at a number not yet reached by mankind”! As Imortan’s convoy of pursuing maniacs arrive, adding new and literal meaning to the phrase ‘lead guitarist’, all hell then breaks lose. Many of the stunts in the ensuing mayhem look to be very much ‘real world’, much to the film’s credit: whilst there is undoubtedly some CGI in play, it is very understated and subtle.
I was pleased to have predicted in my review of last year’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” just how many of the Oscar’s art categories that film would appear in, and I will similarly pin my early Oscar nomination colours to the mast on this film as follows:
- Film Editing (Margaret Sixel): for maintaining an outstandingly breathless pace throughout;
- Best Sound Editing/Mixing (Mark A. Mangini is supervising sound editor): an extraordinary mix of quiet and deafening and with some gloriously subtle effects. For example, when an explosion goes off next to Nux’s head you briefly hear his ringing ears;
- Cinematography (industry veteran John Seale (“The English Patient”)): at times this film reminded me strongly of “Life of Pi” in its imagery and beauty. There are pictures that stay with you long after the film has ended: an alien marshland with deformed humans on stilts; Furiosa kneeling in the desert and screaming to the skies (below); and gorgeous long shots of the Australian desert and the pursuing vehicles.
Above all this is George Miller’s masterpiece. Here is a director demonstrating real chutzpah. A director with the confidence to deafen and then – like Hitchcock often did – cut to total silence. A director not afraid to fade to black, setting the expectation for an awe-inspiring cinematographic reveal to start the next scene (which he normally delivers on). A director marshalling an army of film professionals to deliver a real treat.
It’s not perfect: some of the frenetic editing could have been toned back a tad to allow the viewer to work out what is happening; a significant proportion of the dialogue is either gibberish or inaudible or both; and some of the bumps and scrapes (particularly those of Nux) seem unsurvivable – let alone coming out of without as much as a “hurty elbow”.
But whilst this film is perhaps not for the ‘Marigold Hotel crowd’, I’d defy those with a love of cinema and/or “Top Gear” not to revel in the glorious chaos of this film. As Nux would say, it is very “Shiny and Chrome”.
Fad Rating: FFFFf.