(There are spoilers in this review. Obviously)
That old Hollywood cliché – development hell – was close to the mark when it came to Fury Road; the long-awaited fourth instalment in the Mad Max series. Originally conceived in 1998, Fury Road was due to start shooting in 2001 but was hit by an absolute cavalcade of problems.
The first – most notably and sadly – was 9/11. Director and father of the Mad Max series George Miller found the resulting sag in the world’s economy after that day left currencies on the brink and the movies budget consequently went up in smoke.
After Miller moved onto other projects and things worked themselves out, the series’ most recognizable asset – Mel Gibson – decided to talk (read: rant) his way out of the business end of things. See, it kinda sorta turned out that Mel was an anti-semitic drunk with a fine line in trying to bury his partners in reams of verbal and mental abuse. Then there was the spurious use of ‘the N-word’ that ended up being broadcast from TMZ and across the world. This was too far. We want Max to be Mad… not a fucking moron.
The development of Fury Road – and the obstacles it had to overcome – is probably worth an article in itself, but we’re not here for that. We’re here for what could well be this year’s most relentless, loudest and colorful cinematic masterpiece – at least until Star Wars VII!
Make no mistake about it, Fury Road lives up to the promise of the trailer and a lot more besides. Ignore the fevered rantings of lumpen shut ins who seem overly obsessed with some plot point or other, they’re dead wrong and stupid to boot.
This movie has everything you need. If you’re not entranced by the opening 20 minutes of reckless speed, continual explosions, the hideousness of the civilizations and townships that have sprung up in the wake of the apocalypse, a crop-haired Charlize Theron driving her War Rig under constant barrage from the freaks and mutants of the wasteland, the devilishly envious visions of Miller and his team in creating these characters and their hideous and murderous machines… then you’re just dead inside and I’m wondering how you have logged on to read this article.
The first 20 minutes of Fury Road were SO GOOD that 50% of the theater gave it a standing ovation. Stick that in ya pipe and smoke it, other movies.
The beauty of the series has always lay in the vision and scope of Miller. The drive to create an entirely new world from the rubble of the real one is unmatched – in my opinion – across the spectrum of television, film and literature. Take Fury Road’s heavy duty villian, the Darth Vader of the Wasteland: Immortan Joe (played by the same actor who was Toecutter from the first film, fact fans!). Like some even-more-hideous approximation of Bane, Immortan Joe lives and dies by the dust in the air and his lungs. He holds an entire crush of humanity in the palm of his cracked and yellowing hands, dispensing Aqua Cola (fresh water to us normies) to his minions who cling on by the skin of their teeth.
Immortan’s community is The Handmaid’s Tale meets… erm, well… Mad Max. He assigns women as breeders, to carry on the dirt-filled legacy he strives to create for himself. The film’s entire premise hinges on this unfortunate harem and their woes. Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is the one who breaks out of the life and rescues the girls, trying to take them to the Green Place: a semi-mythical paradise propagated and maintained exclusively by women (“OH NO THE WIMMINZ ARE TAKING OVA!!!” – MRAs everywhere).
… and so Fury Road becomes what Mad Max was always geared for: a two-hour chase scene punctuated with bangs, booms and balls. Fury Road has all three in plentiful supply. Max, Furiosa and the harem are pursued almost to the edge of their Earth by Immortan Joe and the disgusting wretches that comprise the War Boys, heartless sub-bureaucrats counting each gallon of gasoline and every vehicle lost – human life has since come to mean nothing – and the mixed detritus of the old and new worlds.
Ughhhh ok, look… I was trying to avoid talking about what that lousy MRA guy said but it needs to be addressed. The ‘complaint’ that Fury Road is some kind of feminist-cum-socialist-whatever-and-ever propaganda tool is so far removed from reality that I want to take a claw hammer to my own frontal lobe. Here’s the scoop from somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about…
Take at least five seconds to think about the first three movies. Max Rockatansky is a peripheral figure by his very nature. Part one sees him forced into action to avenge the murder of his wife and child. Before that – and when off duty – he took flight rather than fight. The Road Warrior found him drawn into a battle he couldn’t escape from once he’d made it into the compound and his life rested on getting out of there. Thunderdome found him wandering and stumbling into Bartertown and all the ensued afterward.
The point is that Max is designed to live along the outlines and he does so again here. Furiosa and her ‘sisters’ aren’t the main characters but they still represent the driving force behind Fury Road. The ending – in which the corpse of Immortan Joe is dumped unceremoniously and Furiosa and her team lauded – sees Max melt away into the crowd with a look of acknowledgement and the promise of more in the future. It’s the way it was always meant to be.
Oh, and one last word on this film… how could you NOT love something containing the following character names:
Nux/The Splendid Angharad/Capable/Toast the Knowing/The Dag/Cheedo the Fragile/Rictus Erectus/The People Eater/The Bullet Farmer/Coma (Doof Warrior)/The Organic Mechanic/Miss Giddy/Keeper of the Seeds/Vulvalini.
Anyway, stop reading and get watching!