‘Mad Max’: Road rage, postapocalyptic artistry
Action hero Mad Max makes a thunderous comeback, reimagined and repackaged in the visually stunning “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a film by George Miller, original director of the hit series of films. Surprisingly, however, the archetypal road warrior, ably revamped by Tom Hardy, isn’t the only character that gets to shine in the two-hour flick.
Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, is a battle-hardened figure surviving the postapocalyptic barren landscape. Tasked with collecting much-coveted gasoline, she decides to free the five unwilling brides of a mighty cult leader, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).
Max, who was minding his own business when he was abducted by Joe’s forces, reluctantly teams up with Furiosa, a determined former abductee herself—but not before discovering she can throw a mean punch!
The great escape isn’t easy at all—Furiosa’s double-cross results in chase scenes of epic proportions, the vehicular violence threatening to end the tenuous alliance in explosive ways.
That’s how simple and straightforward an action movie “Fury Road” is, and it works quite impeccably. To complement that, there’s still much-appreciated drama—Furiosa’s overpowers Max’s easily, although we get enough out of the latter to understand his impetus.
And, despite this being an action film that treads exceedingly familiar avenues, its urgency and freshness make it new again. The first “Mad Max,” released in 1979, spawned a multitude of copycats and homages in succeeding years.
Hardy, tough and untamed in his own way, makes the old Mel Gibson role his own, although it repeatedly gets overshadowed by Theron’s Furiosa—her weary, buzz cut-sporting warrior woman, despite her firm grip on reality, still holds on to a glimmer of hope, making her a more compelling character.
Theron, looking perpetually pained throughout the film, makes it easy to cheer on the character, a visible inspiration to the five wives and some female allies who fight just as fiercely.
“Fury Road” brings together edgy, unabashed designs, from costumes to machines. The anything-goes, Heavy Metal magazine duds fit the savage crews; the makeup, particularly the deliberately scarred face of Nux (Nicholas Hoult) is outlandishly cool.
The mash-ups extend quite well to the war vehicles. There are monster trucks with bodies of 1950s automobiles, and other appealingly weird combinations of cars and more battle-worthy conveyances.
While it doesn’t have a shortage of independent women, postapocalyptic artistry and bone-crushing road rage, this new “Mad Max” could’ve fleshed out the title character more. Then again, the limited backstory adds some mystery to the character, introduced anew in scrappy and forceful fashion.