Welcome to review #2, Fury Road Boogaloo, now with slightly more editing.
I am reviewing movies that are available on netflix/hulu/amazon/hbo go, but if you have a movie you want me to review you can send it to me via mail. I will only accept Video Home System tapes, however. If you are a film distributor I would love to receive a blu-ray or digital copy of a film you want me to review, I am specifically looking at you The Weinstein Company. I would love to have an early view of Gold, Wild Oats, or the film adaptation of In The Heights, I am sure we could help each other.
Now, onto this furiously mad movie…
Welcome back to the world of Mad Max, its been a while. This is the first Mad Max since 1985 when we went Beyond Thunderdome. Tom Hardy replaces Mel Gibson as Max, Charlize Theron plays the female lead Furiosa, and Hugh Keays-Byrne plays the antagonist Immortan Joe. George Miller returns as the director/writer/producer, which is definitely impressive considering he is now going on 70 years old and spent the last few decades directing Babe: Pig in the City and the Happy Feet movies. Will we see a Happy Feet-Mad Max crossover? Only time will tell.
This is the fourth in a series of films, but you don’t need to see the others to understand most of what is going on. The beginning offers enough background to catch up on the important parts. In short, the world has gone to shit and Max is haunted by his past.
While George Miller himself states that it is better to think of these movies as being individual stories in a world we explore through our character, Max Rockatansky. However it makes most sense if you think of this movie as following Thunderdome (if you have seen it). Max is now alone, with longer hair, and more insane each day. In the beginning of the film he is captured and his hair is shaved, signifying a departure from where we left off in the prior trilogy. This is a new Max, even though his appearance may remind you of Road Warrior.
One of my favorite things about this movie is the language it uses, since there are distinct dialectical differences with the english we use today. The vocabulary is similar, but with either new words, new meanings of old words, or different pronunciation and spelling of old words, is both clever and immersive. Sure, guzzoline is just gasoline… but there is a difference between half-lifes and full-lifes, as half-lifes have cancer and full-lifes do not. These are just a few of the differences, but I think you see the point.
This brings us to the religious themes in this movie and the Cult of the V8 which follows Immortan Joe. The religion is similarly a mishmash of older traditions and fittingly is focused on Norse mythologies of Valhalla and a warrior’s death. It also includes things like kamikaze, or in the language in this movie “kamakrazee”, to describe their desire to sacrifice themselves at the end of their life to greater damage an enemy similar to a Japanese strategy in WW2. So not only does he have a city of people who depend on him for basic necessities like water, he also has an army of followers religiously devoted to him and intent on dying for him. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.
The story not only takes place in a rich and interesting culture, but there are also deep and complex characters at play, as well as a geography to navigate. Immortan Joe wants to have healthy children to continue his line. He sees himself as being divine after conquering the aquifer after his supporters thought all hope was lost, and his followers treat him as such. His partners operate the nearby cities of Gas Town and the Bullet Farm which, as you might guess, produce guzzoline and bullets respectively. Throughout the movie his partners grow tired of this chase, both because it is a family affair not a business issue, and because it is a waste of their own resources.Outside of their territory we encounter Buzzards which are russian speaking foes with spikey cars, people who ride bikes in the mountains, even more people lie to the east of the mountains.
It almost feels wrong to not have mentioned the conflict in the movie yet. Furiosa takes Immortan Joe’s breeders, which upsets him because he really likes raping them. One of these breeders is pregnant and showing while another is in the first trimester. Immortan Joe has two other sons, one who is strong but dimwitted, the other is deformed but intelligent, the goal is to have a healthy child which is perfect in every way. Furiosa does not initially want to rescue them, she thinks they are naive because they are spoiled in many way. Over time she has a change of heart (because of the constant rapes and attempts at self inducing an abortion) and decides to free them by hiding them in the War Rig, making a run for her old home. (This is information taken from the comic book on Furiosa)
I do want to mention the feminist themes in the movie because they are very present, but they have also been talked to death by more dedicated feminist blogs like Jezebel or any number of reviews you can read that focus more on the feminist themes by just googling “mad max feminism”. The female lead is Furiosa who definitely transcends the typical female lead, even in action movies. She is strong, shows herself to be better than Max in several areas, has a leadership in Immortan Joe’s society, and so on. Immortan Joe sees his breeders, and their children, as his property, mimicking traditional and even current attitudes towards women and their bodies. Towards the end of the movie, when they encounter what was Furiosa’s old clan, we discover they are all older women. They are each pretty bad-ass in their own way, and help fight in the climax of the movie. These women are all adept with guns and hand to hand combat, meanwhile one of them carries a purse full of seeds with the confidence that in the future there might again be life in the wasteland. Lastly, Max doesn’t do much on his own and is usually aided by a woman. Max defeats Rictus through the help of one of the older women, as Max was clearly outmatched on his own. All of this helps make this one of the most unique action movies, and in my opinion one of the best action movies, ever created.
The action sequences are where this movie really shines, as it should. The effects are very practical rather than CGI focused, which is something I think we all can appreciate. It is so well choreographed that it almost seems unfair to other movies of the same genre. It looks so real that it almost looks fake, and as you watch it you contemplate how someone could actually create this movie without having casualties on the set.
The music is really intense, and mostly original to the movie. Miller uses a few other pieces, such as Dies Irae, which artfully punctuates a specific moment in the story. Most of the music is based off of the traveling band with the war party, led by the Doof Warrior who plays a massive guitar that shoots flames. Make no mistake, he is the 4th most important character in the movie (sorry Nux). He also loves playing his guitar more than you love anything.
The editing is the most impressive part of this movie, by far. There are over 2,700 cuts that went into making this finished product. According to this article you can watch the movie sped up 12x and still understand what is going on. At the same time this movie is without much dialogue and the plot isn’t really driving the story, so maybe that has something to do with it. Nevertheless, you can’t come away from this film without being in awe of the editing. Fun Fact: The editor of the movie is George Miller’s wife. I bet you thought a man edited the movie. (Just kidding, i don’t care what you think)
In the end there is some amount of justice. The antagonists all die while Furiosa and Max survive (along with some of the wives) to create a new Citadel. What happens next, we may never know. The next Mad Max movie (current working title Mad Max: The Wasteland) may or may not include Furiosa, although Tom Hardy is billed for 3 more Max Max movies.
Overall this movie is an extended car chase with excellent world building, powerful themes, well thought out characters, and not much dialogue. Despite its weaknesses (some would argue the plot), it overcomes them by having some of the most impressive visuals I have seen in my life. When the characters do speak it is powerful. It clearly doesn’t shy from violence, but it refuses to have over-the-top gore. A lot of effort went into this movie, and I am overjoyed that there will be more to come.
95/100 I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes action movies, movies with feminist themes, cars, Tom Hardy, Australia, or just good movies in general. I will be watching the Black and Chrome version when it comes out in September.
The actor who plays Immortan Joe also played Toecutter, the primary antagonist in the first Mad Max.
As real as the action is, the crashes which include primary character surviving are at times too ridiculous. They walk away from some of the most brutal car flips, yet at the end Nux sacrifices himself by causing a car pileup in a canyon.
My favorite changed word in this dialect is “feasting” to “McFeasting”. The legacy of McDonalds will survive nuclear war.
The girl in Max’s dreams/visions haunting him is NOT his daughter.
Previously: The Boy Next Door
Next up: Sleepaway Camp