Friday, May 29, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (George Miller, 2015)

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD presents a vision of the future as an environmental hellscape, but in filmmaking terms it looks to the past for the rejuvenation of action cinema. From practical effects and stunt work to an editing strategy that allows the viewer to remain oriented in spite of some quick cutting, director and co-writer George Miller gives an audience what it needs to cleanse the system of a diet of CGI-cluttered action and chaos cinema transitions. Make no mistake that plenty of digital technology has been used to manipulate the images into the eye-scorching display that is MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. The difference here is that it is not employed at the expense of visual comprehension or awe-inspiring feats.

Neither a reboot or a sequel per se, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD functions as a continuation in the series of one man’s quest to deliver justice to a land where it is in short supply along with fossil fuels, cash crops, and water. The opening voiceover is reminiscent of how MAD MAX 2 briefly establishes how the Earth became barren and tribes fought for the dwindling supply of fuel. The difference in this instance is that Max (Tom Hardy), the policeman turned renegade, supplies the information while conceding he is losing his mind.

At the start Max is captured by the war boys under the command of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Max is prized as a blood bag for these suicidal, starkly white warriors. When a convoy led by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in a war rig veers off course, Joe and some war boys take off in pursuit. Max is mounted like a hood ornament to provide transfusion for Nux (Nicholas Hoult) as he joins the car chase.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD stands apart from much of contemporary action cinema with an unabashedly feminist perspective. Furiosa, who has degenderized herself, has attained a position of trust within a corrupt society and uses that privilege with a plan to transport Immortan Joe’s five sex slaves to the verdant community of women from which she and her mother were stolen many years ago. Furiosa and the those she’s trying to save seek shelter from where women are treated as livestock for breeding and milking. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is a film of few words, and with an arsenal of looks Theron--who probably is more of a main character than Max, title notwithstanding--imparts the profound sense of rage and compassion that drives Furiosa.

In his souped-up action epic Miller also draws parallels to contemporary factions warring over fuel and the religious conviction imparted to those doing the fighting. The war boys do not fear death but welcome it with the promise of living again in Valhalla. The political aspects of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD sound blunter in description than in depiction, mainly because Miller lets the imagery and actors’ expressions do most of the talking. The screenplay is a model of efficiency, suggesting a broader world beyond what gets explained. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD pushes ever onward with an intense and dazzling display that engages the eyes, ears, and mind.

Grade: A-

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