“Mad Max: Fury Road” Roars Onto the Big Screen

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]irector George Miller’s latest installment in the “Mad Max” franchise is a furious ride through Australia’s post-apocalyptic Outback.

The movie opens with a shot of “Mad” Max Rockatansky peering off into the Australian desert, chomping on a hapless, two-headed lizard, pondering the predicament he and the world is in.

“My world is reduced to a single instinct: survive. As the world fell, it was hard to know who was more crazy, me or everyone else,” he said.

“Fury Road” is the fourth installment and isn’t a reboot (I wish that word would be retired already). Instead, the latest picture could be categorized as a continuation of the classic series, which originally starred Mel Gibson as the titular character. Miller, who made the original two films, as well as the unforgettable “Happy Feet,” had been kicking around the idea for a fourth “Mad Max” film since 1998 and even wanted to bring Gibson back for another go around. As all Hollywood stories go, the film plodded along in the development process for a number of years before Miller pulled the trigger and decided he wanted to make another installment before the actual apocalypse happened. This time though he cast Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky.

“Fury Road’s” post-apocalyptic world has boiles and diseases running rampant among the impoverished and hordes of white-painted “war boys” sacrificing themselves as kamikaze agents for their de-facto leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Joe is the key villain of the film and his cult-leader aesthetic rules over the world of Citadel, one of the last remaining civilizations in the Australian Outback. How Joe rules and influences this world with such gravitas is thanks to “war rig” head honcho Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). She is an intimidating presence who captures the audience and the attitude of the film with her first gaze upon the screen.

With that first glance of Furiosa, you not only see the punk-rock attitude of the film, but you get a sense of her integrity and will. That determination in her eyes is not a quick wince as Furiosa decides to go rogue from her usual mission of retrieving gas and instead heads to a promised land, “the green place,” with Joe’s five imprisoned wives. It is then that Furiosa’s crew meets up with Max and one of Joe’s defected war boys Nux (Nicholas Hoult).

Much of the film’s adoration has been centered on the practical effects that are seen. There are a few instances of CGI being used in the film, but for the most part, all the crazy car chase sequences are thanks to good old-fashioned practical effects.

And these scenes are some of the most wondrous action sequences I have seen in some time. The first chase, through a tumultuous sandstorm, is only mild compared to what the rest of the film has left to show.

While the film’s action sequences are a sight to behold, and see them you must, what stood out for me was the performance of Theron and the level of feminism the film presents. You would think a film with bulking dudes and an exorbitant amount of car crashes would ease machismo, but Theron’s storyline and character progression are what keep the movie going. You can see in her eyes, which she splatters with grease, striking a resemblance to war paint, that there is anguish in her soul and that she is tired of taking commands from the male chauvinist order.

Despite a two-hour run time, the film certainly does not drag at any point. With this much octane in the DNA in the film, there’s no time to take a second and collect your thoughts. When I left the theatre, I felt frantic and needed to take a few minutes to process the film, but I’m already looking forward to seeing it again.

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