“In this wasteland, I am the one who runs from both the living and the dead. A man reduced to a single instinct — survive.” — Mad Max
BY Molly Congdon
The best movies make you want to literally jump onto the screen and take part in them, or make you feel as though you already are there. Throughout “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, we traveled a perilous road with Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee and Gollum. Fought for Scottish freedom alongside the wise warrior William Wallace in “Braveheart.” Cast enchantments, scoured for horcruxes and battled Voldemort with Harry, Ron and Hermione in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series. Got an offer we couldn’t refuse in “The Godfather.”
“Mad Max: Fury Road” now joins that list.
In this futuristic film, the world is in desolation. Civilization has ceased to exist. There is no law, hope or mercy. As the title implies, everyone is slightly out of their minds — especially Max.
Max (Tom Hardy) explains, “My world is fire and blood.” I suppose if that were the case, it would cause one to go a bit mad. Hardy doesn’t have a whole lot of lines, so when he does speak, his words are cherished. In the brief silences between roaring chases they resonate all the more.
Sand is endless is this dry landscape. Water — Aqua Cola — is a rare commodity and vehicles with sharp spikes and skulls are the latest trend for those still able to drive and not already buried, unmoving in the midst of massive sandstorms.
Gasoline is a coveted resource and people, similar to vultures, are constantly scavenging for it at all costs. But it’s water they can’t live without.
Max and Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) team up against the ultimate villain of the time, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).
He’s a horrific figure if you’ve ever seen one, the kind that will haunt your dreams. The top portion of his head showcases his last trace of humanity: a long forehead that gives way to a receding hairline as the rest is covered by a thick, long blond mane, and a pair of bushy dirty blond eyebrows sit above a pair of evil eyes, complete with permanent red lines framing his lower lids.
What truly sets this monster apart from others you may have seen is his mask; it only covers the area below his cheek bones — his real nose and mouth are not visible; instead, they are replaced by iron, two breathing tubes and a gigantic set of crooked, yellow teeth, most likely pulled — without Novocain — directly out of a live horse’s mouth. He’s not just crazy, he’s creepy.
Theron’s character is one tough lady, even with a prosthetic arm, as she pilots a hot-rod tractor-trailer battle rig. She is smuggling something quite valuable — the Wives, five young women who were being held captive by Immortan Joe and were to bear his children.
A dream for action lovers
This movie is a dream for action lovers — it’s packed to the brim with blood, explosions, chase scenes and lots of dynamic fight sequences. The choreography is exquisite. Every detail and movement smoothly flows, even as together they create total, noisy chaos — it made you sit back in your plush theater seat and say, “Whoa!”
It’s not an easy trick to pull off, and seldom succeeds — consider the recent hot rod flick “Furious 7,” which never even approaches the level that “Fury Road” achieves, visually arousing the audience, maintaining their utter focus.
This is the fourth “Mad Max” movie to be released, but the first in 30 years. “Mad Max” hit the big screen in 1979. (Trivial tidbit: A much younger Keays-Byrne plays the villain there too.) “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” followed in 1981 and featured what was (until now) regarded as one of the greatest chases in cinematic history. “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” hit the screen in 1985, giving Max a female nemesis for a change, and giving Tina Turner a starring role.
Mel Gibson portrayed Max in all three, descending from upstanding highway patrolman to haunted loner after his wife and baby are hunted down and attacked. As Max goes mad, the Australia in which he exists rapidly devolves into chaos and anarchy, with a nuclear holocaust helping the process along. The devolution reaches (presumably) its final level in “Fury Road,” with its surreal wasteland setting and Hardy’s portrayal of Max as barely more than a grunting animal.
George Miller — director of all four “Max” movies — is a master at his craft, and this movie is just another example of his genius mind at work, unflagging in his efforts to push the plot to the limit to create an untamed, deranged, instant classic.
See it on the big screen, you’ll regret it if you don’t.
“I liked it, it was exciting to watch. I think that this should be the ‘Mad Max’ that they end with…hint, hint.” – Sylvia Wells