fri 19/07/2024

Mad Max: Fury Road | reviews, news & interviews

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

Long-delayed comeback displays appetite for self-destruction

Return of the Road Warrior: Tom Hardy as monosyllabic Max

There is still much to be said for George Miller's original 1979 Mad Max, a cheap but ferocious tale of rape, murder and vengeance in a gang-infested dystopia. However, only two sequels later, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) found the franchise blimping out into a steroidal freak-show. After a 30-year intermission, Fury Road is much more of the latter, now saturated with digital enhancements while almost dispensing with plot entirely.

The potential audience for Fury Road wasn't born when its predecessors came out, so it was a brazen move indeed by Miller (still aboard as writer/director) to demote narrative and characterisation to submerged layers occasionally glimpsed amid the ongoing crashes, explosions, incinerations and amputations which are what the movie is made of. An opening sequence of Max (Tom Hardy, initially unrecognisable under a matted thicket of snake's-nest hair), standing beside his battered Road Warrior-mobile and gazing across a rust-coloured desert, sets him up simply as an icon we're implicitly invited to support. Who he is or how he got here aren't explained, though he is tormented by flashbacks of his dead family.

Then he's captured by a gang of vampire-like War Boys and incarcerated in a towering rock called the Citadel, which is populated by assorted freaks, midgets and fleshy naked women having their breast milk methodically pumped out. As for Max, they drain his blood. This is because there's been some kind of toxic apocalypse and everybody's blood is cancerous, though not Max's. But I only know this because I read the production notes, which add helpfully that "it's 45 years after the fall of the world."

Mainly, the movie is structured as two gigantic chase sequences – everyone goes all the way out, and then they turn round and go back again. It all kicks off when Furiosa (Charlize Theron, pictured above with Hardy), who drives a huge armoured truck called the War Rig, veers off her stipulated route and sets off for the fondly-remembered "Green Place" of her childhood. The idea that this is an ecological protest movie is a red herring though, since this post-civilisation malarky merely provides a blank canvas for Miller and co-writers Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris to scribble their grotesque caricatures on.

Furiosa is pursued by the repulsive Immortan Joe, the diseased dictator who runs the Citadel, and his goon squad armada, with some help from the Rock Riders on their trail-bikes. Long story short, you get interminable uninterrupted slabs of outlandish custom-made cars, bikes, jeep-type things covered with spikes etc roaring across the desert trying to destroy each other, with ghoulish figures on long bendy poles lobbing explosives from a great height.

Booming pseudo-metal music rages incessantly – the pursuers have enormous drums and a heavy metal guitarist harnessed to the front of one of their vehicles – to the point where it starts to batter you into a trance-like state. In the entire two-hour duration Hardy and Theron barely get a page of dialogue between them, with Hardy's occasional grunted syllables making him sound oddly like Simon Day's satiric rock star, Brian Pern.

Green issues aside, Fury Road does also tout a sort of feminist agenda, with Theron apparently welcoming the notion of playing an "alpha female" who slugs it out on equal terms with Hardy. Furiosa's homeland, or what remains of it, turns out to be populated by a weatherbeaten matriarchy who wield shotguns like grizzled frontierswomen. Part of Furiosa's mission is to rescue Immortan Joe's harem of oppressed, captive wives (pictured above), though since they turn out to be a bevy of underdressed wet-dream lovelies (including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz and former Dior model Riley Keough), any "progressive" pretensions seem paper-thin here.

If you're a hardcore computer gamer inured to marathon sessions of annihilation while being pulverised by Death Metal from wall-to-wall speaker stacks, this may be the movie for you. For myself, not so much.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road

Interminable uninterrupted slabs of outlandish custom-made cars, bikes, jeep-type things covered with spikes etc roaring across the desert trying to destroy each other


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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You and Niel Rosen have the same take: the movie needs to be diluted with a ton of backstory. But I couldn't disagree more. This is the THIRD Mad Max sequel! Would you expect Star Wars to fill you in that "Well, okay there are these guys with special powers called Jedi, and they use a thing called the Force, and then there's other people, and a Republic, and mediclorians, and [ad nauseum]." Why do you think an action film that reveals its themes organically as the narrative develops, needs a lot of exposition to fill in "Why all this is happening?" There are three other films that ground the entire Mad Max series in the notion that it is a dystopia, And what do you mean "I only know this because I read the production notes?" I could have figured this out from watching the movie with no background knowledge of the franchise, and a few who went to see the film with us did just that. I got it without reading production notes. They got it without reading production notes. Hmmm, must be you. I really am starting to wonder if critics like you and Rosen even watched the movie, or just went in, tuned out when you realized it was not "Birdman," and then wrote critiques wherein the only flaw you can find with the film is that it wasn't the one you wanted it to be. Which is moronic. It delivers what the audience expects, and both the critical and audience response was stellar. It's just you. And your final paragraph is childish. I know many grad students and PhDs who found it thrilling and intense.

Grad students and PhDs can be hardcore gamers too, you know - in fact the nerd-ish personality that lacks human empathy is very common to both.

I don't understand the connection between this film and "hardcore gamers" who lack empathy. You'd have to have empathy to enjoy the intense emotion in Nux's face as the Immortan proclaims that he is awaited in Valhalla. I still tear up a little at that. Fury Road is pure joy, both in aesthetic, and in the minimalist, but compelling and lovely story. There's no way a person without empathy could enjoy it in its fullness. I'm trying very hard to understand its detractors arguments. Is it difficult to see the movie as a slice of these character's lives, in this particular world? We don't need any backstory. We don't need any more development than what we get. It is what it is, and it is -beautiful-.

You like The Gunman, but dislike Fury Road. Going against the grain to seem edgy/stand out much?

horrible review plain and simple .. trash review.. GARBAGE CRITIC.

can not agree u more

One of the few honest reviews of this movie. Nice job

I agree, good review of an awful film, a glorified cartoon video game with zero characterisation and plot. A loud boring chase film. On the other hand I really enjoyed the first two Mel Gibson films.

You are not very cinema-literate if that's all you got from it, you and the critic both! Take some film classes!

Serious critics who are far more knowledgeable about film and art than you will ever be have rightfully panned this stupid movie. For example, Piero Scaruffi.

Totally awful. I rarely write reviews but I am astounded that this had such a variance between rating and 'value.' NEGATIVE 5 STARS!

You and Neil Rosen must be cut from the same cloth. That cloth has no freakin idea what makes a good movie. You probably liked Transformers. How is it possible you get paid to review movies!?

u r so correct, can not agree u more !

This article is a bit insulting to those who really enjoyed this great movie. I certainly don't fit the stereotype of the type of viewer that would enjoy this film set forth by the critic. I'm well-educated, empathetic, and, I think, fairly intelligent. I also engage in scholarly study of English literature and do research on the nature of mythological narratives, and I've long found that a story doesn't have to have an intricate "plot" to be compelling or moving or important. Fury Road is a piece of visual and auditory art, but even beyond that, I actually found the story and characters beautiful. Just because a film fits into an aesthetic you don't agree is "good" doesn't mean it should be relegated to the realm of the "gamer" or the un-empathetic. I find that a very strange connection. I'd like to know what the critic even means by the term "gamer," because I think there are a lot of ideas in this review that need to be unpacked, and that will prove to be rather weak, as far as arguments go, when exposed.

This braying donkey saw this movie in its entirety, gathered all the messages it was trying to get across and still failed it. This is a sellout of the lowest calibur. They knew goddamned well they were looking at a goddamned masterpiece. The finest film since film was invented and treated it as crap because that's what their bought and paid for shills wanted. Adam Sweeting is pure and simple a whore of the lowest regard. Giving up all pretense of authenticity for the mighty dollar. Theartsdesk will forever be an example of failure and compliance in my opinion. I hope you all are ashamed. I will NEVER trust anything any of you assholes ever publish. You are garbage and filth.

I thought it sucked too.   And I have no agenda.   Just someone who expects more than a two hour car chase scene that doesn't end up anywhere because the writers didn't know what to do.   

And "messages"....give me a ....... break.  Childishly simplistic themes in this movie.  NOTHING more.

Finest out more....see more movies.....this movie was TERRIBLE.  

I'm not opposed to films containing little dialogue, and my reasons for not liking this film do not stand or fall on that alone, however, I would say that the use of visual cues and social nuance does not, and should not, equate to brilliance. Every film to date has consisted of visual cues to varying degrees, and while it was clearly Millers intention to narrate the film in this way, the plot is still a very simple one and I honestly did not find the characters engaging, especially max. Tom Hardy is a solid actor, but he had no presence in this film. Not interesting in the least. Sorry. Charleze, as she tends to do, overshadowed everyone else. Let me add that I have nothing against female leads or simple plots, so avoid the caricature of me you may be painting in your head. Nux's character development wasn't believable either. While his character displayed an interesting mix of thoughts and emotion, I didn't find his change of heart convincing. We can talk all day about how love conquers all, or how it can change a person & his/her idealogy, but for this to happen so quickly to a person who truly believes he's going to Valhalla, stretches belief. 180’s of this type don’t happen overnight. The action was creative, I’ll give you that, but even so, it didn’t have me gripping my seat. I found it very hard to suspend my disbelief at the harem wives. Apart from the surface level dirt, these women looked like they'd just stepped out of a salon. Given the dystopian environment, their skin, hair, teeth, were alot healthier than they should've been. You need more than clean water to look this way. Yes, I understand the intended contrast, & one could interpret this as a metaphor for "beauty" in an "ugly" world, and how important/prized these women were to Joe, but this is completely inconsistent with a dystopian setting (allegory aside). I know this is intentional, but beautiful/brilliant? Not even close. If you like allegory, metaphor, & visual storytelling, that’s fine. Others may not, but deriding them because of their personal preference in how stories should be told, is unprofessional, immature, and arrogant. I see these types of films as social experiments more than anything else, in that they tend to reveal alot more about the audience & the director, than they do about the characters.

This is honestly a pretty insulting review. Any film review that contains any sort of "The only people who would enjoy this are..." sentiment is bottom of the barrel critiquing, because you're inherently stating that you're above anyone who enjoyed it. How pretentious.

Can't agree you more

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