Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
It’s been years since I last saw one of the films from the Mad Max trilogy (1979-85) leaving me with a thirst for more on-screen violence from in the post-apocalyptic outback of Australia. George Miller and Mel Gibson creating a myth built on legendary characters. Ok the first outing Mad Max (1979) was made on a budget, it hash;t aged to well. With all the larger than life characters that were painted, the danger and Gibson a then unknown having loads of fun. The idea of a desolate future was being written. The next instalment we meet him in Mad Max: Road Wrarrior (1981) very much a changed man after witnessing the death of his family at the beginning of this apocalyptic future. A few years down the line we are in this world where anything goes, with even larger than life characters in all kinds of contraptions, spikes, spears and skulls on cars of all shapes and sizes from bygone days, pimped up cars, kitted out for the desert. We can see that life does go on, there is hope. Where the is hope this is also despair as factions of bikers and other gangs of petrol-heads are after all they can get as we find, more dangerous than the good guys, It’s all a giant play-ground for the male imagination, cars explosion and death and destruction to revell in on the big-screen. Before reaching new levels with the last part of the trilogy Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) trying to be more commercial with the inclusion of even more kids and the bombastic Tina Turner as Aunty Entity leader of a group built on-fear and control. Modern society in the later two has clearly broken down, reverting back to a more primal state. It’s far beyond what we have in The Rover (2014).
Ok with a some context in place this latest instalment 30 years later or should I’d say Mad Max:Fury Road (2015) re-boot is more of an amalgamation of the three earlier films. With the past built into flashbacks the other two are built-in in terms of borrowing elements here and there to recreate that world for a new audience. I’m usually one to say on Facebook when I see a post that yet another classic is being remade or rebooted, I hang my head in shame or despair, why return to something that worked so well. Going back to the watering hole for more of the same instead of being original. However I have no doubts about this one thanks to George Miller being all over this film. Only he could deliver a fresh take on what makes Max tick, the cars the insane characters that roam the desert.
The reusing of the same elements has ensured that there is some continuity to the universe. We left Max last time as he sped off into the distance, the kids and any responsibility they believed he had to them. We had images of a ruined city and that theme tune that has done far better than the film. We find Max now still getting into scrapes, fighting to get free, now also afflicted by flashbacks, the guilt for leaving others to die. A haunted and complicated man of few words. Gibson’s Max had a few more. We do still retain the over-protectiveness for his car though, not much really changes. Held prisoner by Immorten Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) ruler of the Citadel a figure straight out of a H.R. Giger sketch who is held together by the best technology and fear that he can inspire. He probably has about as many lines as Tom Hardy who struggles to keep one accent for a single page of dialogue. He needs to really find and focus on who he is, with a voice that is all over the place, he’s Australian one minute, American the next, just make your mind up. Unlike the rebellious Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who has left the faction on a routine delivery, made out to be the best of her kind, having proven herself to Immorten Joe. She’s fully formed and a deeper character, Max we can’t get into, needing to rely on the flashbacks and the original trilogy to fill in the gaps. He does however fall into the Leone figure of the west more so that Gibson’s take on the role.
If you’ve see the previous films you’ll know what I mean when you see this film begin making you feel at home with what you know before cranking up the explosions which come at regular and welcome intervals as the Furiosa takes her truck of a detour away from it’s destination. We learn her true mission. Its not just a male dominated world, women still have a voice, something that has been lacking from the other three. Ok there were families and Entity but not on this scale. A rare action film that will definitely pass the Bechdel test.
It turns into a rescue and escape mission for Furiosa who you can see and had to fight for all she has in life. Harbouring 4 of Immorten Joe’s wives, reflecting the current state of immigration and refugees in the world today. The Although there isn’t the fear of crossing the channel and having someone break into your car and your lorry. There is still that core ideal of wanting a better life on a world that is no barren. Max is caught in the middle of all of this after being tied to a stake on his car part of a war party, driven by Nux (Nicholas Hoult) a glory hungry half life, one of the legions of loyal soldiers who will kill for Joe.
This group of unlikely characters band together to get the promised land, this time the Green, which does sound like paradise. we do capture glimpses of such a life, hidden behind the guarded world of Citadel. If it wasn’t for the recession we may not have had another Mad Max, not to say we should have economic disasters to make films, it’s an interesting reflection of our times placed in a future where s*** has hit the fan big time and everyone is picking up after the fallout. The powerful have find ways to control the people whilst others band together. There’s a lot going on, I saw Mad Max in 3D which was perfect, given all the action, the crazy explosions, it feels too much then you end up wanting more. Its better than “mediocre” its marvellous. Can there be a sequel? I’m not sure, there is plenty of room to go to other tribes/factions, see how Max is thrown into it all. However it needs to break free of the past to be truly modern, build on what it has to be truly fresh.