A two hour car chase, hurtling through flames and fuel in a dystopian desert, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” delivers exactly what it promises to audiences.
The fourth installment in the Mad Max series, “Fury Road” marks a 21st century revival of the quintessential ‘80s action flick. At 70 years old George Miller, the film’s director, finally gets to continue on the legacy he began with the 1979 release of the original “Mad Max.”
On the surface, “Fury Road” appears to lack depth of plot line, but at closer examination it is clear that the complexities of this film lie in the world that Miller has created, not in the actions that occur on screen.
In the dystopian wasteland of the future, ‘created by wars over oil and then wars over water’, Greg Hardy plays Max Rockatansky. whose only concern is with survival. Kidnapped in the opening scene, Max is brought to the citadel ruled by Immortal Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, and faces the unfortunate fate of being a “blood bag” for a driver in Joe’s war party. Max finds himself a pawn in the pursuit of Imperator Furiosa, Charlize Theron, who is attempting to liberate Joe’s harem of wives. But Max quickly slips his captors and forms a shaky alliance with Furiosa in an attempt to be free.
The film’s fast paced action sequences are separated with a variety of more introspective, human moments. The film’s dialogue was sparse, yet carefully crafted and highly meaningful. Through Miller’s vision, the audience is able to see intriguing character development with very minimal lines. Interestingly, this trend is not reserved only for the main protagonist. In many ways Max’s character is auxiliary to Theron’s Furiosa. Each of the main supporting cast members have their own space to develop in their own ways.
But the greatest strength of “Mad Max: Fury Road” doesn’t lie in the dialogue or the action, but instead the conceptual depth of the world in which the story unfolds. The world that the story inhabits is itself a strikingly vivid character. “Fury Road” was directed not from the script, but from 3,500 storyboards that Miller drafted over the last few decades.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” represents a fascinating juxtaposition between old and new styles of filmmaking. The heavy reliance on explosions and action mirror the contemporary departure from dialogue and plot development in film. Yet interestingly few scenes were primarily CGI – which is a massive shift from the current standard for action films. Additionally, the conceptual depth in “Fury Road” rings of a much earlier era of filmmaking.
The film is filled with Easter eggs, odes to the previous installments of the series, and social commentary. The phrases “We are not things”, and “Who killed the world?” are scrawled on the wall of the escaped harem, and uttered again at fork in the road moments of the plot. Also the collapse of society in this world is attributed to misuse of resources.
On the whole “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a success from many different angles. It is a guns blazing action film that is able to stay true to the ethos of its predecessors. The cinematography is visually stunning, and it’s almost unbelievable that it is done without heavy reliance on CGI – a massive badge of honor in today’s film industry. Furthermore, the film’s characters are gripping and are able to develop in a manner that fits the film’s unique perspective. “Fury Road” is an extension of the mind of a great director that makes profound statements in an unconventional, unique fashion.