Mad Max: Fury Road ★★★★

You know how during the final scene of Whiplash, you got that feeling as if your heart was about to burst out of your chest? Well that's pretty much how I felt for the whole of Mad Max: Fury Road.

We'll start with the positives, and there are quite a few of them. On the whole, the film looks fantastic. The practical stunts are just as awesome as they were in The Road Warrior, and even most of the CGI blends into the world and is hardly noticeable. The sandstorm scene is particularly noticeable for its majesty, extreme long shots (which are utilised well throughout) perfectly capturing the towering nature of the unrelenting desert's harshest attacks. The only visual effect I was left unconvinced by was some of the fire, which looked clearly faked and stood out like a sore thumb against the better effects, but I realise that's a very small gripe. But even disregarding effects, Fury Road is beautifully shot at all times. I said in my review of Tracks that the desert had never looked so good, but I'll retract that immediately and hand the title over to this film. If you don't feel an instant onslaught of emotion when watching Furiosa fall to her knees against the backdrop of infinite sand then I'm not convinced you possess a heart OR a brain.

And that brings me on to my next point. Comparisons to Ellen Ripley have already become near-redundant, but they are certainly apt in the case of Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa. Furiosa is a true badass, but not at the expense of her femininity. Men's rights activists (lol) have been notably furious(a) at Theron's character playing centre stage in this film, but for me she's a more interesting and sympathetic character than Max himself, so I'm more than happy at this state of affairs. And it's certainly great to see Theron, who is easily one of the most gifted actors in Hollywood (I think her role in Monster is in my top 5 performances ever), get a meaty role that she will certainly be remembered for in decades to come. War Boy Nux is another memorable and likeable character, brilliantly played by Nicholas Hoult in what may be the standout performance of the film. Hoult brings excitement and innocence to his character, traits often difficult to locate in the desolate and hopeless wasteland of the Mad Max universe. The supporting cast are all very good too, sometimes surprisingly so. Who knew Transformers' Rosie Huntington-Whiteley could actually act??

My main concern for Fury Road following the trailers was the rather obvious lack of plot. And the trailers were very accurate, there is hardly any plot to speak of. But that does not matter one iota, because the narrative depth of this film is astonishing. There was hardly anything that happened that didn't make me feel an extreme emotion one way or another. I cared about all the characters in some way and every single shot was necessary and added to the film as a whole. It felt streamlined in a way that most action films these days, even Marvel movies, just don't. The flabby bastards.

Up until now this has been sounding like a 4.5/5 star review, but there is one big reason why I have only given it four. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Tom Hardy in other things. His performance alone made 'Locke' a thrilling experience. But for me, he just isn't Max Rockatansky. I may not have a huge affiliation with the previous Mad Max films, but boy does Mel Gibson own that character. Even when Max is an empty shell by the time of The Road Warrior, beneath his cold and heartless exterior you can see the pain buried deep down inside, and with Hardy I really could not detect that. Infact, I felt it a hell of a lot more in Furiosa than in Max. Instead Hardy grunts and grumbles his way through the film in a distinctly non-Australian accent, looking and sounding bored for pretty much the whole duration. Here's an actual line of his (if my memory serves me correctly): "Max. My name is Max... hrrrrh huh rrrrrr hrrrh... That is my name." Like seriously Tom, what the fuck are you even going for there? While I am waiting eagerly in anticipation for Mad Max: Furiosa, the idea of a solo movie with Hardy's Max fills me with worry more than excitement.

But Hardy aside, Fury Road is one of the most enjoyable cinema experiences I have ever had, and I want to watch it again already. I imagine it can only improve with every re-watch, and I look forward to eventually putting my differences with the film aside and accepting it into my favourite films list. Because it really is good enough, and rightfully deserves its place amongst the best action films of all time.


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