MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Despite the ads, and the title, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD has nothing to do with the iconic character Mel Gibson brought to life back in 1979 with the trilogy MAD MAX, THE ROAD WARRIOR, and BEYOND THE THUNDERDOME. In this film, Mad Max is a mere secondary character. He plays second fiddle and bumbling buffoon to a damaged, yet noble female warrior. His name in the title is a ploy to ensnare Mad Max fans to a movie that they would otherwise have ignored. It’s a cheap ploy used to spread an ever irritating feminist propaganda at the expense of an already established male movie model.
Not really sure why Director and Scriptwriter George Miller thought he could wrap this estrogen-filled woman warrior film in a Mad Max envelope. Surely word of mouth will spread and damage the box office returns for this film; not a good thing considering the movie has a budget of $100 million. Miller is obviously engrossed in the Sigourney Weaver Affect. (This is the movie phenomenon, beginning with ALIEN, which demands a strong woman hero must be present in the movie or it is of no value.) Nothing wrong with female warrior movies; I enjoy watching Milla Jovovich and Scarlett Johannson wrapped in leather and pounding nefarious no-goods as much as anyone. But with MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, audiences are promised an iconic character who, in the form of Mel Gibson, was an apocalyptic James Bond. In this film, it is all about Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. She is the hero, she is the star. In fact, Mad Max, played by Tom Hardy, is rather incompetent and constantly depends on Furiosa to bale his sorry ass out of trouble. He even spends the first 30 minutes wearing a prisoner mask similar to his Bane gear from BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. At any moment, you expect him to say: “I was born in the shadows!” But, of course, he doesn’t. Hardy is lacking his personal trainer and daily juice intake, so he is considerably smaller than his Bane persona. He is not Mad Max, more like Mealy Max. Audiences will not be amused by the deception. Mel Gibson must be laughing his ass off.
The world is destroyed. Oil and water are prime commodities and the human race is reduced to blithering hordes grasping for the meaning of life from demented tribal leaders who offer a hodge-podge of former mythologies as a means to salvation. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD begins with Max captured and beaten by one such tribe. Max is far from heroic and can only realize his escape when Furiosa attempts to save the leaders’ harem, a collection of high-school aged waifs, from a life of baby breeding. A pursuit ensues in which, repeatedly, Max and the cache of ladies find themselves facing impossible odds. Max helps, but it is the skill and bravery of Furiosa inspiring the group and leading them to eventual victory.
Chief among the pursuers is Rectus Erectus, played by Nathan Jones. Jones is nearly seven feet tall and 360 pounds; a quite imposing figure. Of course, in this feminista film he is the epitome of brawn, with no brains, a general maxim that applies to most all the men in this film. Jones was tearing up ToughMan competitions until an injury shifted his career to acting. Also starring with Hardy, Jones and Theron are Nick Hoult, Josh Helman and Zoe Kravitz.
Junkie XL provides a rousing music score which is this film’s best quality. Junkie XL has produced a cadre of amazing soundtracks including EDGE OF TOMORROW, RUN ALL NIGHT, 300 RISE OF AN EMPIRE, and the forthcoming BATMAN VS SUPERMAN. He is seeking to replace Danny Elfman as the premiere scorer in Tinsel Town.
Cinematographer John Seale is in top form, capturing the action sequences of the dessert chases. Critics were able to see MAD MAX: FURY ROAD in 3D. For the most part, it is impressive, but like THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, there are several scenes, especially those in the beginning, where the 3D effect reveals too much of the animation and matting. Editor Jason Ballantine includes several truly cheesy 3D scenes, including steering wheels and oil rods leaping from the screen. These are cute for kiddie flicks, but unnecessary in R-rated movies. Production Designer Colin Gibson captures the post-apocalypse world well. The chase into the tornado patch is especially entertaining and quite reminiscent of the Taurus Nebula scene from STAR TREK 2: THE WRATH OF KAHN. He does blow a lot of stuff up, and while the explosions are fun, they are not in Michael Bay mode.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is action-filled; in fact, there is so much action the plot, what little there is, becomes lost and almost meaningless. The stunt sequences are ridiculous. Characters jump from vehicle to vehicle, work on engines and scramble from front to back on machines roaring through the dessert at break neck speeds as if they were casually walking down a city block. The reckless abandon of vehicle transportation makes the stunts in FURIOUS 7 seem believable.
Speaking of stunts, Richard Norton serves a fight choreographer. Norton is a staple in Hollywood for fight scenes. He’s worked with some of the best, including Jackie Chan, but he made his name with Chuck Norris. In Norris’ THE OCTAGON, Norton was the sai wielding masked Darth Vader like assassin, Norris fought in the octagon death chamber. Norris and Norton formed a friendship that carried over to television when Norris became WALKER: TEXAS RANGER. Norton appeared in almost every season, primarily as a heavy. With Norton aboard, I expected a few interesting fight sequences. Forget it. There is one, and it’s so brief, if you sneeze, you’ll miss it. Everyone is too busy jumping to and from vehicles to bother with fighting.
So while MAD MAX: FURY ROAD can boast an excellent soundtrack, solid shot sequencing and production values, it’s the feminist propaganda that ultimately ruins the film. Even the conclusion reeks of Helen Reddy’s mantra. The world is not right, nor can it survive and prosper, until a woman is in charge. Please. Miller rams this agenda so hard down viewers’ throats it has a gagging effect. It’s almost as if MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is a promotional campaign ad for Hillary in 2016!
Fans expecting Mad Max will be disappointed. Hardy as Max is a loser; an incompetent, though well meaning rogue, who has to depend on a superior woman to continually bail him out of danger. Theron receives top billing in the opening credits, above Hardy. That alone speaks volumes about the aura of this film. Miller has taken Mad Max and turned him into a schlub. With this attitude, I doubt there will be a sequel for Max, though Theron may have one with Furiosa.