Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

3/4

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne

Rated R for Intense Violence and Action, and for Disturbing Images

"Mad Max: Fury Road's" appeal is purely visceral.  It's a way to get the adrenaline going and gaze in awe at the eye-candy (except if you see it in 3D, which I strongly advise against since it's awful).  Narrative and character development are almost non-existent.  It's essentially one long chase scene, which is fine since George Miller is no Len Wiseman; he knows what he's doing.

The film takes place after the world as we know it has ended.  Society has been reduced to gangs battling each other over the remaining supplies.  Gasoline and especially water are scarce.  One man who has access to water is Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne), and unfortunately, he's using it to consolidate absolute power.  But one of his commanders, a woman named Furiosa (Theron), steals his five wives (whom he's using to sire a son) and flees the commune.  Immortan Joe pulls out all the stops in getting them back.  And then there's the man being used as a hood ornament/blood donor (Hardy).

I remember seeing the original "Mad Max" movie in high school and being unimpressed.  It hadn't aged well, so a reboot makes sense.  The fact that it's good is all the more impressive.  The action sequences are exciting and visceral, and there are some truly spectacular stunts and visuals (the dust storm is just one of them).

On the acting front, the film doesn't really impress.  Then again, this isn't a movie where much more than looking good and kicking ass is required.  Still, good acting always elevates a film.  Tom Hardy is surprisingly weak.  His acting is stiff, and in an attempt to pump up the grit, he speaks in a low, croaky voice.  Unfortunately, this makes him sound a lot like Forrest Bondurant in "Lawless."  Fortunately, he doesn't have a lot of lines.  Charlize Theron is a total badass and can fight like no other.  And Keays-Byrne is imposing enough for the film to work, but won't go down in history as one of cinema's great villains.  Nicholas Hoult is very good as Nux, a warrior who wants to be martyred but then finds his way back to the light.

There's really not a lot more that I can say about this movie.  It's essentially critic-proof, since it's appeal is purely physical.  It works, but I just wish that there was more from a story-perspective.  And shaving off a few minutes wouldn't have hurt either.

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