Mad Max: Fury Road ★★★★★

184/200

Entirely satisfying. The score provides just the right amount of pathos so that the emotional underpinning isn't lost during the absolutely insane early going. Miller's direction has lost none of its hyper giddiness at throwing the next mind-boggling image at you. When the trailer first debuted last year, I compared it to Hard to be a God, and it turns out I wasn't super far off the map. The film is all moving parts and every aspect has to be machine tooled or something might misfire. In Hard to be a God, the camera was like a drunken dirigible floating through abject misery and every kind of waste. Fury Road's momentum echoes one of Miller's many wobbly characters, having gone so around the bend they now rock back and forth as they walk, fingers out and wriggling, divining imperceptible changes in fate as they sail on the breeze. It hops over the hood of one war machine after another, taking everything in as if it were conjured by gods. Nux is our POV character for a lot of the film because his prostrate excitement is the posture the camera most frequently assumes.

The carnage is...apparent, so I needn't go into why it's worth losing our minds over it. The mythologizing is, unsurprisingly for Miller who launched a thousand ships with just three movies, gonzo. His religion makes twisted sense and is frequently hilarious, as it should be. His characters are fully coloured in, from the greatest to the lowliest dayplayer. Everyone tells a story with their body, their clothing, their expression, their name. Good heavens the names. The Dag, The Organic Mechanic, Rictus Erectus, Imperator Furiousa, The Splendid Angharad and Immortan Joe. Immortan Joe is one of the greatest characters ever. His gait is uncertain but dogged. His chest is covered in sores and flabby, so he wears a new one made of plasticine and covered in metals and decorations. He wears fearsome teeth to keep his real emotions from ever coming through. His voice is one of the greatest things I've ever heard. I could have listened to Immortan Joe read the phone book. He has a cartoonish villainy, but a deep sadness compels him. He's the ultimate Miller creation, and Hugh Keays-Byrne plays him magnificently. If Immortan Joe were not as well-rounded and fascinating as Max and Furiousa, this would be a one-sided game of tug-of-war.

More than simply being the best time I've had in a movie theatre in...well, an awfully long time, Fury Road fulfills the promise of almost 50 years of low budget Australian genre directors scraping the bottoms of barrels looking for one more cent with which to complete one more gnarly stunt. This is a victory for a national cinema that has received entirely too little attention. So many of Australia's heroes had to move away to become known or they died before ever getting their due. This is for them. Their blood flows through its veins and I know this because Miller is just as ridiculously inventive as the best of them. Money didn't sap his imagination. He did not compromise. He made a Goerge Miller film. He made an Australian movie with all of Hollywood's money. So go ahead and nitpick, everyone. The battle's been won. This movie exists.

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