“Mad Max: Fury Road” — now this is some road trip! You enter a dry, gritty, metallic, angry world, sucked into it as if through a vacuum. The surroundings seem unrecognizable … then the consistency of the barren landscapes and the huge violent machines pull you into that world, a black hole that devours your heart. You ride along with the angry, relentless unearthly beings searching for survival, redemption and just maybe a glimpse of hope.
Can a 70-year-old director successfully make a blockbuster action film that will thrill all ages? This film is the resounding answer. George Miller directed the original “Mad Max” on a small budget in Australia in the late 1970s, raising the money to make it by working as an emergency room doctor. He has since had a full directing career, spanning diverse genres. He knows that explaining the existence of this barren world would waste time. He just pulls us in. We can figure it out.
The genius and imagination of the team that made this film is immense. The detail of each second of this unfathomable environment is superb. The huge vehicles created by production designer Colin Gibson, cobbled together from aged automobiles, are characters in themselves, with a touch of ironic humor. Tiny recognizable details of our world tug at your memory, embedded in each machine (next to an accelerator in a gigantic war rig is an old metal shoe-sizer). A fleeting medical clue near the beginning of the film validates a key scene near the end. One war rig has a human masthead — an enraged heavy metal guitarist playing non-stop.
Cinematographer John Seale, production designer Gibson and Composer Junkie XL create a vivid world that’s “in-your-face” real. There is choreography to the battle scenes, a visual narrative down to the last element so that you know exactly what is happening. Pandemonium is created carefully rather than through confusing images. Editor Margaret Sixel has done a remarkable job on her first action film, taking 480 hours of footage from a grueling 6-month shoot in the Namibian desert and pulling it into a taut, compelling 2-hour roller coaster ride. Her background in the meticulous art of animation editing gives her the skill to handle this task. VFX supervisor Andrew Jackson’s image work should be displayed at the Louvre — it’s fine art.
The acting is extraordinary. These are not over-the-top comic book characters. Each of the beings is colorful and deep and draws from thoughts and emotions we all have, however repressed. Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy give Shakespearean performances. Each character becomes real, not just a figurehead, no matter how otherworldly the persona.
By the end of the film, you’ve “survived” an ordeal ldth these strange characters and they are now your friends. You realize that in the painful, unforgiving world in which you’ve been traveling, the universally human will to live and to have hope has survived, as it does in our own world every day. Watch for multiple Oscar nominations here.
Rated R. 120 minutes.
Kathryn Whitney Boole was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left. It has been the backdrop for many awesome adventures with crazy creative people. She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. Reach her at email@example.com.