When I saw the trailer for Mad Max Fury Road I was positive it would be one I couldn’t see. I don’t like violent films and it looked like a gory, violent mess. However, I always go through my process I describe for evaluating movie content in How to Be Mormon and Like Movies. I look at reviews, the detailed content summaries on screenit.com and I ask friends who have seen the movie. To my surprise I found it to have virtually no profanity and to not be as violent as I anticipated. It is an R but most of that is more battle like violence, some nudity and vehicular battles. Convinced it was within my comfort level I decided to go check it out .
It’s a very tricky movie to review because it does what it is trying to do masterfully well. I don’t know how that can be debated. Whether such a master work is your cup of tea is another question. It’s certainly not a movie I will be frequently rewatching but I did think it was good and engaged me more than I would have guessed. All in all it is a success and I can see why many people love it.
I have not seen the original Mad Max movies because I always figured they were too violent so perhaps I will give them a watch. This Mad Max doesn’t have much of plot. It’s one action sequence after another. It does not try to have symbolism or a puzzle like a Nolan film might have. It doesn’t have a strong lead character like a Bond film. The title is perhaps a misnomer because Mad Max has only a few lines of dialogue and is an ensemble player with Charlize Theron and others.
Basically the plot that does exist starts out with setting. It is a desert post-apocalyptic world that is ruled by a man named the Immortan Joe. Max has been arrested and is forced to be a blood bag for a War Boy played by Nicholas Hoult. Charlize Theron is Furiosa who abducts 5 of Joe’s wives called the breeders.
The rest of the movie is Max, Furiosa and crew getting chased by Joe and having intense battles with each other. Each of the cars is so imaginative with one even being a giant speaker system with a guy playing an electric guitar. There are cars that have long poles for people to swing onto other cars. There are rigs with gasoline and others covered in spikes. It keeps the action exciting because you don’t know how the cars work and how the fight will play out.
For not speaking much Tom Hardy is good as Mad Max. But the movie doesn’t give you a lot of time to contemplate his character. I can’t even imagine how awful it must be to shoot a movie like this with all the dust and dirt but he is convincing as the stoic anti-hero.
The CG is kept to a minimum and it at least appears to have a lot of practical effects. The stunt work is flawless. I wonder how much Hardy and others did of their own stunts? Whatever the percentage is by professionals you definitely can’t tell. It feels earthy and real which we haven’t seen in an action film in a long time.
I loved how Mad Max handled its female characters. It reminds me a little bit of Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow. These are not cliched warrior women or damsels in distress. Even the breeder women are relatively complex especially for this kind of movie. Charlize Theron is amazing! She is tough but has heart and there is a moment that is completely devastating for her and she sells it.
There are different kind of women- old women, young women, pregnant women and they all defy female tropes. The last thing I expected in a movie like this is an awesome group of women and it definitely helped sell me on the film.
Hugh Keays-Byrne is good as the villain Immortan Joe but most of that credit has to go to his costume and mask.
There is such attention to detail. The amount of time that must have been spent to get teeth right, skin layered and dry, lips cracked, everything covered in dust is mind blowing. The makeup on the war boys including Nicholas Hoult is very convincing. They are brainwashed to believe if they are obedient servants to Joe they will achieve immortality at the gates of heaven.
Mad Max Fury Road is not a movie that gives the audience much time to breathe. There is very little dialogue and I did feel kind of exhausted by the end of it. But then again I feel like it was trying to do something completely different and new and from a comic book guy like George Miller it makes sense it is primarily a visual spectacle. Still, it pushed me to my limit of apocalyptic car battle sequences (who knew I had such a limit? 😉 ). I’m a little surprised it is so universally loved because I would think a few people might be bothered by the thin plot and lack of character development?
I guess they just accept it for what it is- a new dazzling creative vision of what a war movie looks like. After all do we complain that the villains in a WW2 movie aren’t fleshed out enough? Do we want more dialogue in our John Wayne war movie? No. Same with this. It is visually incredible and the action is immersive enough to carry the day.
Like I said, the women put it over the hump for me to a strong recommendation. It was such a pleasant surprise and I bet you could see the movie and not even notice most of the women. They are just characters in the movie like anybody else. It looks gorgeous. The action sequences are stunning and I was entertained.
As far as content it has some nudity from a distance and women are milked like cows in one brief shot. Characters are stabbed, impaled, tortured and shot in the battle scenes. Another you see briefly has his face ripped off from a mask. A lot of crashes, explosions and sand storms that are intense. A woman has a c-section mostly off screen and an IV is seen being inserted. I know it sounds crazy but its actually more tame than you might think. No language. Mostly it is a lot of cars and broad fighting like a battle than one on one violence like you might get in a horror movie.
A grade is tough because I did feel a little bit weary by the end but it looks so great, the action is so well done and I loved the female characters so I grade it an…
Overall Grade- A- Content Grade- C
Also the music by a guy named Junkie XL was outstanding with a great combination of electric guitar, medal sounds and a traditional sweeping score.