I have now seen Mad Max: Fury Road three times, I just got back from my 3rd viewing tonight. And I’ve been listening to a lot of discussions regarding the film, and how pretty much everyone is gushing over it. Which they should be, because it is absolutely phenomenal. I’ve done a couple reviews for the film here and there. But now I wish to get into serious spoilers and explain in full detail why this is a cinematic masterpiece.
To say it is one of the best action films of the summer, is incredibly insulting and also a serious understatement, criminally so. This is probably the greatest action-genre cinematic achievement in the last 16 years, since The Matrix in 1999. There has not been a film since then that has completely set a new standard for genre filmmaking. Mad Max: Fury Road is now the movie that all action movies in the future will be judged against. George Miller is 70 years old and has crafted such an aggravatingly brilliant adventure film, that far surpasses what any current filmmaker is making today, in this particular genre. Joss Whedon could never direct a movie like this. Furious 7 does not come close to what this film achieved, aesthetically or emotionally. This movie is so far beyond what those movies had to offer. Sound design, cinematography, set design, costume design, editing, dialogue, practical and visual effects, acting, the music, camera work…in every aspect of filmmaking, it holds excellence. Sound absolutely helps the experience of this film as well. Miller cannot be praised enough for what he has done. If there is one action movie worthy of Oscar talk, this is it. And only this. At least for right now.
This is operatic grindhouse. Tarantino and Rodriguez need to take a cue from this movie, and never make a grindhouse film ever again.
When discussing the script for Mad Max: Fury Road, it does what I wish more and more films of this nature would do. It tells its story and plot through action. There is so much of the movie that is not explained with dialogue, but action and or simply behavior and body language. It begins immediately with Max on the run, in action, in his element. And from there, you are given hints of his backstory with visuals.
Mad Max is just waxing philosophical a little bit, as a narrator. And the story immediately throws us into the middle of this massive story. We’re not given a backstory as to why Furiosa has a bionic arm. Mainly because we don’t need one, she was probably born that way. The camera also never lingers on it, it never shoves her arm in your face to establish the fact that she’s an amputee. It’s treated like anything else in the film. They don’t explain why the minions of Joe are spraying that chrome stuff all over their mouths right before they sacrifice themselves. Everything is treated with a real big amount of care and respect.
The vehicular action choreography is absolutely stunning. Just even the gigantic vehicles themselves.
I have literally never seen anything like this on film. This is a new modern day western, with vehicular manslaughter the likes of which are unprecedented. This is a culture of excess, the end of the world where gas is precious and there is just nothing but dirt and rust and hepatitis. The action is extremely well paced also, only occurring when it is absolutely necessary in the narrative, never does it feel overdone. And each action scene progresses, although, probably the most visually jaw dropping sequence is in the first 20 minutes, with a car chase in a mega-gargantuan sand storm. The audacity to let this scene be so operatic and poetic and gorgeous, is incredible. Wincing is a real consistent reaction in this movie, with explosions and bullet wounds and stab wounds popping up left and right. None of it feels fake, it all feels like it has weight, partly because there is not a whole lot of CG used in these action scenes. Most of it is used in the sand storm.
Even the action sequences away from the cars, in particular, one with Furiosa and Max bashing each other in the dirt is crazy good. It does not feel like a typical action sequence from something like Furious 7 or a martial arts film; the way it is shot, edited and choreographed makes it completely its own beast.
And I haven’t even gotten into the feminist aspect of this film yet. Which I will right now. I now have one more iconic female character to place on the mantle next to Ridley, Sarah Connor and Lindsay Weir. This is absolutely 100% Furiosa’s film. And things like this…really, really, really point out how important films and characters like this truly are.
Sidenote…if you are apart of a mens rights activist group/campaign…you need to go fuck yourself and die. You entitled, pussy-ass crybaby.
Now, back to Mad Max: Fury Road. The decision to have the character rock a shaved head was all Theron’s, which is dope. She is not a damsel in distress, none of the women in the film are. The movie absolutely passes the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test is short test that is used as a way “to call attention to gender inequality”, and to assert that women are under-represented in films due to sexism. If there are at least 2 women in a film, having a conversation among themselves, and they’re talking about something other than a man/boyfriend, it passes the test. Sadly because most movies do not. This movie just obliterates that test, as it has countless female characters that are not entangled in a love story or pining over some man or even having their character motivations revolve around a man in any way. In some of the most important scenes in the film, Furiosa is the one who gets to execute her own destiny and redemption. I.E., killing the main villain herself.
Also, her physical appearance is extremely important to me, and admired by me. Very, very rarely in these kinds of films would we ever get to see any of the female characters bleed or get bruised. In fact, there is one film that takes place in a hot desert with strong female leads…
One of the reasons why I really admire both Kill Bill films, is because Quentin allowed The Bride to be fully engaged in the physical action, and let her get bruised and fucked up and bloodied up. That’s really important. Furiosa gets extremely fucked up in this film, she is literally 5 minutes away from dying at one point, if it weren’t for Max sharing his blood. Speaking of which, Mad Max, the male lead, the titular character, doesn’t get bruised/bloodied nearly as badly as Furiosa. Which is awesome. All of those tense, badass moments men would get in films (getting stabbed, laying on the ground nearly lifeless only for someone to save you, taking out the villain, gripping Max’s ankle as he dangles 3 inches above the ground, missing the arm, her being a better sniper than Max) Furiosa gets. Charlize Theron has made an icon female heroine. She just completely owns Max and owns this movie. And the film should be applauded for that alone, if nothing else. And the group of elder women they meet up with at the end of the 2nd act are also great.
I do not know if I want sequels to this, now that I think about it. I don’t want them only if the studio is going to be rushing Miller to pump them out in the next year or so. This one took over a decade for him to finally materialize. He says he has ideas for more, even a title and plot details. I just don’t want him to be rushed.