Sunday, May 17, 2015

FURY ROAD REVIEW [SPOILERS] - WHO KILLED THE WORLD?

Who killed the world? 
The Five [To Immortan Joe]


Directed by George Miller
Starring TOM HARDY, CHARLIZE THERON, and NICHOLAS HOULT

That is the question posed by the wives (sex slaves) of the main bad guy, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). For an over the top action movie, the movie poses a lot of important questions, which is what the 'Mad Max' films are known for. Director George Miller's apocalyptic vision of the future isn't good. The world in question is a desert world of scarce resources, falling satellites, and dwindling oil and water supplies. In Miller's vision, if you strip away the civility of a properly functioning society people will revert to their most brutal animalistic selves. The strong exploit the weak. This is the world of 'Mad Max,' who himself was the victim of terrible personal tragedy. In the original 'Mad Max,' Mad Max's family was brutally killed by marauders.
MY NAME IS MAX. My world is fire. And blood.
Mad Max [Narration]

The film appropriately begins with the titular character, Mad Max (Tom Hardy). Max is a long-haired loner traveling the vast Australian outback, eating any unfortunate two-headed lizard that crosses his path. He's kidnapped by a group of marauders, which is just another day in Mad Max's world. We don't learn much about the marauders and we don't need to. The marauders have always been integral to the world of 'Mad Max.' There isn't that much dialogue and there doesn't need to be. Unlike his contemporaries in the Hollywood machine, George Miller thinks his audience is smart enough to figure things out for themselves. The action of the film carries it. The film has very few quiet moments and is truly action-packed without being repetitive or boring.

Wanna get through this? Let's go!
Furiosa [To the five wives]

Steely-eyed, one armed Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) sits in her war rig, as the grotesque cult leader Immortan Joe (who I believe was the toecutter from the original 1978 'Mad Max' film) speaks to the little people below. From the cliff of a barren wasteland Joe feasts on freshly pumped breast milk, while the people below beg for water, which he provides to them sparingly. He also keeps five wives hidden away in a vault with chastity belts. They have names that speak to their personalities like Cheedo the Fragile (Courtney Eaton), the Dag (Abby Lee), Capable (Riley Keogh), Toast the Knowing (Zoe Kravitz), and Splendid Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whitley), who is Joe's favorite and very pregnant.
EVERYBODY HAS GONE OUT OF THEIR MIND.
You're not the only one Max.
Immortan Joe [To Mad Max]

Furiosa and her war party are sent on a mission to deliver supplies to a nearby town. Furiosa takes a detour that does not go unnoticed by Joe who watches her convoy through binoculars. Meanwhile Mad Max has been turned into a "blood bag" (blood donor) for a sick war boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Evidently Mad Max has a universal blood type. I'm not sure how the war boys figured this out, but it doesn't really matter. As soon as Joe realizes that Furiosa has diverted the tanker and its escort on a detour, he realizes that his five wives have been taken. In response Joe leads his entire war boy army to hunt down Furiosa. Yes, yes, the premise of the film is simplistic, but the film's execution is flawless
We are not things. We are not things!
Miss Giddy [To Immortan Joe]

One of the most interesting aspects of the film is that it's a movie about five sex slaves without any sex. Thankfully Miller is not a Hollywood producer beholden to the same tired movie stereotypes. Had a typical Hollywood director directed this film, the first half of the film would have been about the brutal exploitation and misery of the five women, but Miller is smarter than most Hollywood types. He doesn't need to show you something for you to "get it." From the first scene you can tell what type of man beast Joe is. You can imagine what horrors must have befallen these women to cause them to flee in the hold of an oil tanker, but you don't need to see it.
You're never gonna have a better chance.
Furiosa [To Mad Max]

Once Joe realizes that his prize possessions are gone it's on. He sends the war boys after Furiosa. Not wanting to be left behind due to his illness, Nux takes Mad Max along for the war party ride "king of the world" style. Despite being outnumbered by the war boys, Furiosa proves herself to be a worthy adversary, avoiding the war boys and making deals with other bandits along the way. Eventually Furiosa loses Immortan Joe and the war boys in a massive dust storm. Max prevents Nux from going out in a blaze of glory because they are chained together. There's a weird little bit how the war boys spray paint their mouths with this metallic spray when they're about to off themselves, thinking they will join the warriors of Vahalla. Clearly this Immortan Joe is quite convincing.
My world is reduced to a single instinct: Survive.
Mad Max [Narration]

After Max stops Nux, he has to carry him because his gun jammed. Max's original plan was to blow Nux's hand off, but alas. While carrying Nux, Max runs into Furiosa and Joe's five wives. Not knowing his intentions, they fight Max and Nux, which is fun to watch because Max and Nux are chained together. All of the women, some of whom are pregnant, help Furiosa fight Max off. They're not your typical action film females, who would normally squeal and pant in the background. No, these chicks do whatever they can to survive, which is probably closer to reality.
Have you done this before?
Mad Max [To Furiosa]

Max and Nux inevitably prevail, but Max can't drive the truck without Furiosa, as she has installed a kill switch. Nux tells Max that the "blood bag" will be received as a hero and Furiosa will be shredded. Max reluctantly allows Furiosa and the wives back into the truck. Instead of killing Nux, the wives spare him because his life matters to them. Even in this desperate world, the women spare a war boy's life. It's a critique by Miller that men like Immortan Joe destroyed the world. People like the wives, Mad Max, and Furiosa can put the world back together.
I live, I die. I live again!
Nux [To Mad Max]

Nux escapes and goes back to the war boys and Immortan Joe. At first Joe treats Nux like a hero because he survived Furiosa's wrath. Nux tells Joe that he knows a way to get into the cab of the truck. Then Nux flubs the jump onto Furiosa's truck. An injured Nux is eventually found by one of the wives and switches sides, falling in love with "Capable" played by Riley. (A neat bit of trivia about Riley-- she's Elvis Presley's granddaughter.) When Splendid is killed putting herself in harms way to protect the truck, Immortan Joe gets even more bloodthirsty. Huntington-Whitley is not particularly known for her acting skills, but she holds her own here.
I am the road warrior.
Mad Max [Narration]

Mad Max, Furiosa, Nux, and the wives lead Immortan Joe and the war boys on a glorious ride to the "green place" that Furiosa promises them. When they arrive it's not as they expected, but they do pick up some of Furiosa's old tribe members. When they arrive at their destination the audience is given a little background on Furiosa. As a child she was kidnapped and taken to the land where she would later become an Imperator...an impressive feat to be sure.
As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken.
Mad Max [Narration]

At first Mad Max decides to leave his new friends to travel solo again, but he soon changes his mind. Miller's social commentary extends past Immortan Joe and onto Max. The lone wolf needs a pack to succeed. The motley crew continue to make their way together to their ultimate destination. It's through teamwork and perseverance that they survive. The movie goes on to end as magnificently as it begins.
Remember me?
Furiosa [To Immortan Joe]

The acting is superb all around. Theron gives this role everything she has. Hardy does an excellent job as well. He aptly fits the role of a young Mad Max and I didn't doubt him for a second. Mel Gibson...who? Also, something should be said about the film's cinematography, incredible pyrotechnics and stuntwork. This is truly a beautiful film and a unique action movie among the mindless summer drivel.

The 'Mad Max' films have always been quirky, stark, and violent. 'Fury Road' is no exception. What makes 'Fury Road' unique from its predecessors is that the budget and visual effects have been exponentially increased. The original 'Mad Max' was low budget. I'm not sure what the budgets were for the other films, but neither of those films would have had access to advanced visual effects, which have vastly improved over the last 30 years. So if you ever wondered what George Miller could do with $150 million and exceptional visual effects, then your question has been answered. The direction and visuals of 'Fury Road' are spectacular.
Admittedly, when I saw the first trailer and read the synopsis, I did not want to see this movie. I didn't even list it in my future reviews section because I did not plan to see this movie. My husband is a big George Miller fan, so he insisted that I see it. I had seen my share of 'Mad Max' and 'Thunderdome' as a child of the 1980s (watching movies I probably shouldn't have been watching). So I didn't have a particular desire to see more 'Mad Max' films. Since I'm the first to complain about a film not living up to my expectations, I'm also willing to admit that I was wrong to dismiss the film. 'Fury Road' is thrilling, epic, and beautifully filmed. The film has gone on to receive almost universal critical acclaim, rightfully so. 
Side note: A lot has been said about the feminism of 'Fury's Road.' If you can believe this, there are actually people who are advocating for a boycott of the film because of Theron's starring role opposite Mad Max. From my perspective the only difference between 'Fury Road' and your typical Hollywood action movie is that 'Fury Road' treats its female characters with respect and dignity. That's it. That's all it takes for it to be an "offensively feminist film," which is funny. Someone in the Hollywood machine must be crapping themselves because if a movie like 'Fury Road' does well at the box office then Miller has proven once an for all that an action movie doesn't need to dumb down women to be successful. Hollywood has been living off of the milk of misogyny in action films for far too long.

All I can say is thank goodness for George Miller. He has restored my hope for female action heroes. George Miller has always included strong female characters in his films, first with Virginia Hey as the Amazonian-like warrior in 'Road Warrior,' then with Tina Turner as Aunt Entity in 'Thunderdome,' and now with Charlize Theron as Furiosa in 'Fury Road.' After watching 'Avengers 2: Age of Ultron,' 'Fury Road' was a breath of fresh air.
FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS.

18 comments:

  1. I was really impressed. The world building was amazing. He didn't explain anything - just let the audience discover the world as the story unfolded.

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    1. That was what I really loved about the film. He's such an incredible director.

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  2. I was in awe... the whole time. It was bold, it was adventure... it had wasteland style and grace. It gave us a "this shit could happen" kind of feel, much like the previous films. So many references from the prior films too, I lost count... I kind of hoped Gibson would have made some appearance, but maybe he did... maybe he did.

    Nice solid review and she did an awesome job, it was more her story than Max.

    Jeremy

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    1. Hi Jeremy! thanks. I loved this movie. It was a wild ride. You know Mel Gibson has had so much controversy over the last few years I wasn't sure if I wanted to see him in this film. He may have been a distraction, but I guess a cameo would have been nice.

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  3. I've haven't scene this movie get but everything I've read makes it sound amazing. It's also interesting that you mention rape since The Mary Sue wrote a thoughtul article about how rape shouldn't be a plot device and why they're boycotting Game of Thrones because of their use of rape. The point they're trying to make is that it's not necessary and frequently diminishes the female characters. Contrast that with this film which puts women in the drivers seat and in control of their lives. Bravo. A wonderful overview Ms. Mariah. "What a lovely day!"

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    1. Hi Maurice!! Thank you for your comment. I will read the Mary Sue's article. I have been concerned about seeing too much rape on screen as well. Of course we know it happens, but filming it must be done with care. Game of Thrones seems to treat it very lightly indeed. I actually haven't seen one episode this year. I was waiting for the eps to wind down and then I was going to binge it. I may not binge it now.

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  4. Mad Max Fury is new to me but by all accounts it sounds like one not to miss.

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    1. You will love it! It's a guy's guy's movie. Lots and lots of action. Lots of fun. I don't think there was one boring scene.

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  5. I've warned my family we're hauling ass to see Mad Max this weekend *hopefully*. Shamefully, I didn't read your whole awesome review since I'm avoiding spoilers - but I will definitely return. :D

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    1. Ha, I totally understand! There are lots of spoilers in my review. I can't wait to read your review!

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  6. I didn't read this. I haven't seen it yet and I don't want to suffer the spoilers, so I skipped to your grade and it's another perfect score. I can't wait for this movie!!!

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    1. Ha, no problem! I totally understand. You're going to love it! I can't wait for your review.

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  7. I loved it as well and just did my own review. How nice it is for all of us to agree for once on something. This was one of those theatre experiences that I will remember for a long time and what recent movie can you say that about?

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    1. I completely agree! It's rare to have a film experience like this one. Fury Road reminded me why I love going to the movies.

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  8. Awesome review! I was mildly interested in this and mostly waiting for Ultron but we all know how Ultron turned out ^^ now I'm super psyched to see this, gonna do that on Friday. Great that Charlize finally got good role to play in a big movie

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    1. Hi Sati! I hope you like it. I'll be looking forward to your review. It was definitely a thrill ride. I went into the theater with no expectations so it was such a pleasant surprise. Charlize killed it. Great great film.

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  9. "He has restored my hope for female action heroes." YES! Great, great review here. This one was hard for me to write about, because it was so magnificent!

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    1. Hi there, thanks a bunch! It was difficult to write about because it was so fantastic.

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