It has been a long time since a film was good enough for me to see it twice in theatres. Mad Max: Fury Road is that good.
Directed by George Miller, proving skills only deteriorate with age if you let them, Fury Road is the kind of film you beg to happen every year. Sometimes the void is filled and other years it’s not. Last year it took a combination of Edge of Tomorrow, Snowpiercer, John Wick and The Raid 2: Berandal to fill the void. This year it only takes Mad Max: Fury Road.
Fury Road is a great piece of art. It doesn’t have to be great at one thing. It strives to be great at everything. It doesn’t just have to be beautiful. It doesn’t just have to have a message. It doesn’t just have to be cool. It doesn’t just have to be exciting. It doesn’t just have to be well made. It isn’t a jack of all trades and master of none. It’s a master of everything.
You don’t have to watch the original trilogy to understand what’s going on. You don’t have to care for the feminist theme painted on every frame (though you should). You don’t have to care about the eco winks about a world running out of oil still wasting it on flaming guitars and gas guzzling war rigs. You don’t even have to care about the abundance of practical effects. You can shut your brain off and enjoy it immensely, but why live life so dulled?
Mad Max: Fury Road does everything right. It does lighting right. It does colour correction right. Even with where CGI is in 2015, your brain just mentally knows when something was made on a computer and when something was made in real time. The soundtrack is an undervalued mix of symphony and synthesizer, gnashing guitar and pounding percussion. The acting is a perfect mix of subtlety, introspection and camp. Any film that causes you to forget to breathe is going to be a must see. Fury Road causes you to forget how to live.
I’ve said for years now that Charlize Theron deserved a stronger agent for the roles she has chosen in the past but now I recognize what her agent was doing. Her agent was avoiding her from being locked in a seven film catastrophe to represent a superhero. By becoming Imperator Furiosa, she’s become greater than any controlled Marvel film environment heroine. She’s a hero for the modern age. Her humanity is what makes her powerful instead of a flawed 20th century origin story. If comic book films spike in popularity when society is desperate for real life heroes, Furiosa is a reminder of what an original intellectual property can bring. Theron is Furiosa. Theron is Fury Road. Theron is the best actor of her generation.
Complimenting is Tom Hardy as Mad Max. All he had to be was not Mel Gibson today. Even in comparison to Gibson’s Max of the past, his suggestive grunts and post-traumatic stress created a man reluctant to give his name until someone gave him a reason to care again. Hardy has had a steady climb of films proving he’s more than just muscles and incredible genetics. From the intense action scenes to being a leading man that could play support without a complaint, Hardy got to walk away smiling as the real star of the movie was elevated to higher ground and lost nothing in the exchange. Hardy is Mad Max. Mad Max will return another day. Well, unless silly rumour websites have anything to say…
Not enough is credited to the self-sacrifice made by Nux, played by Nicholas Hoult. Hoult was dynamic in his pursuit to die for Immortan Joe but by the end of the film, presented an arc where he finally had something to live for, and more importantly, something to truly die for. With powdered skin and chrome sprayed teeth, Nux needed an actor willing to go to the campiest reach in the desert and then scale back at the right time to see the humanity in the lost War Boy. Hoult nailed it on “Val Kilmer in Heat” proportions.
I’m shaking in excitement with how much I want to talk about Fury Road. How going back to the Citadel was perfect. How the film often made me think, even on second viewing (!) that the heroes were going to lose and all hope was lost. The absolute badassery of the Many Mothers on their motorcycles. How in its post-apocalyptic viewpoint of the world it provides more hope from despair than so many films before it. How Max’s visions finally left when he stopped running away. The power of the bard and his fire breathing guitar.
There’s so much to talk about and thankfully, many are writing on every aspect. From disability representation to how the Bullet Farmer, The People Eater, Mad Max and Immortan Joe are the representations of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Mad Max: Fury Road is more than a summer action movie. It’s the best action film experience to have been provided in the 21st century.
Should I go see it a third time? What a day. What a lovely day!