Monday, 25 May 2015

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Now's My Time to Weigh-in on This

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Dir. George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron,
Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Review By Greg Klymkiw

There's no need at this point to make much of the perfectly-wrought slender plot of George Miller's spectacular ode to the glories of cinema via its wham-bam ultra-violence, save for the fact that Tom Hardy's Max Rockatansky, the immortal road warrior of the three movies starring Mel Gibson, hooks up with the hot, head-shaved, one-armed Imperator Furiosa (the hot, head-shaved, not-really-one-armed Charlize Theron) to make her way back to the paradise of her childhood homeland whilst rescuing a clutch of gorgeous babes held as breeders by the post-apocalyptic mutants who've carved out a massive kingdom of slavery and brutal repression.

The most interesting aspect of the tale is that our hero is initially captured by the mutants, forced to become a perpetual blood donor and then secured to the front of warrior Nux's (Nicholas Hoult) car as a "blood bag" (to explode in a shower of crimson if and when the roadster slams into something). For at least 30 of the film's 120 minutes, its hero is forced to wear a mask and trussed into complete immobility. He does, however, have a perfect view of the mad chase and carnage that ensues, happily giving us, the loyal audience, more than a few delectable points of view.

Then for another 30 of the film's 120 minutes, Max plays second fiddle to Furiosa until the final 60 of 120 minutes whereupon he's finally able to fully engage in the heroics Mel Gibson was allowed to indulge in during Mad Max and The Road Warrior.

The first hour of the film contains some of the most stunning, nail-biting chase sequences ever committed to the edification of action fans since the very dawn of cinema as well as imagery in the mutant kingdom which is so eye-poppingly grotesque that it rivals that of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, which director George Miller is clearly indebted to. At 72-years-old, director George Miller manages to easily take several huge dumps of superiority upon every other younger director in recent years who've purported to direct action blockbusters. This includes, but is not limited to the execrable Sam Mendes, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Singer, Joss Whedon and Christopher "One Idea" Nolan.

Miller's mise-en-scene is thankfully sans herky-jerky camera moves, ludicrously endless closeups, picture cutting that's almost solely dependent upon sound cues rather than visual dramatic action, an over-reliance upon digital effects and tin-eyed spatiality. His eye for action and his sense of rhythm is impeccable, his eye for the grotesque (the mutant villains, the earth-mother breast-milk slaves, the mohawk hairdos, body piercings, tattoos and the grandly retro mechanisms in the fortress) has seldom been paralleled, his commitment to driving everything dramatically because he's wisely utilized a simple narrative coat hanger to add all the necessary layers; all this and more points to his innate genius as a REAL filmmaker as opposed to most of the poseurs making blockbusters in contemporary Hollywood.

Though a part of me would have preferred if Miller had continued using the great Mel Gibson in the role of Max and added the layer of age to the character's bitterness, guilt and weariness, I'm happy enough with his selection of the strange stalwart intensity of Tom Hardy and the fine actor's chemistry (thankfully non-romantic or even vaguely sexual) with Charlize Theron's tough-as-nails-exterior masking her long-ago lost innocence of childhood.

And yes, though another part of me wished Miller had tried to bring his film's running time down to the 90-95-minutes of Mad Max and The Road Warrior, I was never bored during the 120 minutes of Fury Road, only occasionally fatigued by its relentlessness.

I love the first two Mad Max films so much that I'm grateful to Miller for not abandoning the spirit of them and using his previous work as a natural springboard into both the familiar and the fresh.

That the villain Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) is equally foul to such previous villains as The Toe Cutter and Humungous makes me very happy. Even happier to me is that Hugh Keays-Byrne played Toe Cutter AND Immortan Joe.

That the movie, by including a kick-ass female lead who is not just a woman pretending to be a macho Rambolina figure, but a woman driven to fight for the rights of fellow women and lay claim to a part of her that she lost, is what allows Miller to take his place as a genuine artist who heartily grasps the comfort of the familiar whilst building upon that and allowing it to blossom into a wholly new hybrid of insanely magnificent splendour.

That Miller has attempted a different approach to colour with Fury Road is also pleasing. I'll admit to always loving the occasional dapples of almost fluorescent colours amidst the sandy, dusty Australian outback, but I also love the high contrasts Miller employs here with varying shades to lighten or darken the proceedings when necessary.

That the movie uses real souped-up cars, trucks and motorcycles which are really driven by real stunt drivers and really smashed-up-real-good is the biggest bonus of all. (Porcupine-like killer cars, a big-wheeled monstrosity outfitted with banks of speakers and a heavy metal guitarist whose guitar shoots out flames and the terrifying gas tanker commandeered by Furiosa and Max are but a few of the vehicular delights on display.)

Finally, though, I do wish the film had had far more dystopian 70s-style melancholy infused into its a-bit-too-hopeful ending, especially since there's a sense of Max's final look to Furiosa, and to us, resembling the final looks of Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) in John Ford's The Searchers.

But, really now, who am I trying to kid?

I fucking loved this movie.


Mad Max: Fury Road is in wide-mega-release all over the world via Warner Bros. It is presented in 3-D. I refuse to see it in that format as it annoys me. I've only watched it in normal 2-D and was quite satisfied with that, though I'll admit the 3-D might be less egregious to me than it normally is, given Miller's superb direction.