Posts Tagged ‘Fury Road’

Leaving HBO at the end of this month, you have time to catch it now.

This film is possibly the greatest action thriller ever made. The stunts put Hollywood to shame. Everything is real, kinetic, and life-endangering.

Whether or not you like Mel Gibson, he brought Mad Max to the world, and his world is brutal, chaotic, and sublime. The Road Warrior stood as untouchable for thirty years until George Miller delivered Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015, and we had something to finally compare it to.

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The opening montage sequence is a bit dated in its style, and perhaps underwhelming as an opening. Start at the first frame after it, however, and all bets are off. The music also seemed a tad old school, but the action is jaw dropping and center stage.

The plot of The Road Warrior revolves around a siege, that of an old oil refinery in the desert, surrounded by The Humungous and his dogs of war. The refinery people have a small society, straining to keep civilization going in contrast to the scavengers of the wastelands. Max must decide which world he belongs to.

And he’s not a great guy.

But he’s not a bad guy either.

What he is is a damaged guy for a damaged world. And he keeps his word.

It’s interesting how everyone sees value in him, but not himself. He seems to consider himself worthless, a rat scavenging guzzoline wherever he can find it. That’s all he’s capable of aspiring to.

I cited The Road Warrior as a major influence on my 2014 novel Transfixion. There is also a siege and with a school bus lodged across the front gate of a school. I made sure there was a truck/car chase sequence or two as well. It truly was effective, if you believe the readers.

It’s not all about Max. Supporting characters make this movie. Top spot goes to the feral kid, whom you have to stop and just cheer for. The feral kid is amazing. We’d never seen him before or since, and he’s perfect. Max’s gyrocopter-flying sidekick is also a key man in the story. And the helicopter afforded magnificent aerial shots of desert chaos that make sense, and so you never think twice as to why they have all these grand overhead views. It’s just magnificent filmmaking.

The Road Warrior is must-see cinema. End of discussion.

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Such a great film. My review.

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Yes I did give George Miller the benefit. For the first hour I might have said something like: ‘Miller is one of a handful of guys in the world who should be allowed to make action movies.’

The film opens with breathtaking sequences, an apocalyptic cult world that amps up everything we’ve seen before to new heights. When Furiosa takes off on her dash to escape the insanity, it’s a welcome twist and completely understandable.

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Charlize was great, fitting right into this post-civilization, but bringing a tender, feminine humanity to contrast against much of what happens.

All I can say about Tom Hardy is that he’s no Mel Gibson. Part of that has to do with his hulking presence, too much muscle. He isn’t given much to play after the opening rallies. He’s silenced and other actors take center stage. Max is a pawn, and the events carry him along for the most part. This is the Mad Max formula. Max is always an outsider caught up in the survival struggles of others, but destined to wander the desert wastelands alone in his madness.

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It seemed we would get a bigger taste of Max’s madness this time. Flashes of characters dead and gone haunt him, disrupt him, and cripple him. It looked like these ghostly flashbacks would be building to something, but they became repetitive with all the focus turned toward giant action sequences rather than any progress with Max’s insanity. It felt like a loose end that never developed.

Miller’s innovations, The Road Warrior on crack, were primarily in the area of tactics and stunts. The story initially went on its own path, only to become predictable by the third act. For that reason I could fault Miller for running out of Guzzoline before reaching the next level.

My audience, an almost packed house in N. California, froze at closing credits. Were they going to applaud? Tense seconds passed. People rose up. Silence mostly. A couple of smarmy jibes. A handful of us remained seated through the several thousand names, content to relax and avoid any exertion after such a kinetic experience.

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I’m a bit stunned that 98% of critics have applauded, outstripping audiences at 92% today on Rotten Tomatoes. The initial immersion into Miller’s cult scavenger civilization leaves such a strong impression, and it’s been decades since Max has roamed the desert wastelands. People are craving more. So there you have it.

P.S.

Behind the Scenes Footage (Spoilers)


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Making of Mad Max, Fury Road

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