'Mad Max': A Cinematic Road Less Traveled
As this past weekend came and went, each of the films that debuted made a big splash in their own way. It was hard to tell who was more crazy: the people who went to see Mad Max: Fury Road or the people that thought it was a better idea to see Age of Ultron for the 3rd time instead. My name is Greg and my world is fire... well, that may not be true. But I am one incredibly excited person because I just saw the rebirth of the action genre a few days ago.
Mad Max: Fury Road is the 4th film in George Miller’s insane series about a former cop (or Road Warrior if you prefer) navigating the wastelands of a world long ago destroyed by its own greed. His name is Rockatansky, Max Rockatansky. But you can just call him Mad for short because that is what he would have to be to endure the misery and savagery of this world. This film is not necessarily a direct sequel to any of the other Mad Max films, but more of a reboot as Max and the last of the V8 Interceptors (his car which was destroyed in The Road Warrior) find themselves in the clutches of another tribe of lunatics who wish to use his blood to nourish the sickly and insane warriors of the horrifying post-apocalyptic dictator, Immortan Joe. It seems as though Max is trapped in this horrifying situation, unable to escape not only the chains that hold him but the ghosts of those he failed to help in the past. And while Max is our one constant in this mad mad world of George Miller’s, it is the story of Imperator Furiosa (played magnificently by Charlize Theron) that is at the heart of this movie. Furiosa is a woman high up in the ranks of Immortan Joe’s army, and one who has apparently had enough of his savage ways as she frees the 5 women Joe considers his “wives” and attempts to take them back to the homeland that she was stolen from when she was just a child. And then a psychotic 2-hour car chase ensues.
What a movie! What a lovely movie! Would you like to hear one of the definitions of "movie magic"? I might be paraphrasing, but it is basically the ability to make the audience exclaim “How the hell did they do that?!” at least 10 times during a film’s running time. You don’t hear that too much these days because, quite frankly, everybody knows how it’s done, and the answer starts and ends with 3 letters: CGI. Well, in Mad Max: Fury Road the CGI is used sparingly and takes a major backseat to ancient filmmaking practices that are as much missed in today’s films as home-cooked meals and showers are in the world of Mad Max. Real props, location shoots, masterful editing, and intricate stunt work not entirely beholden to greenscreens make up the skeleton of what is surely George Miller’s finest Mad Max movie to date. Now, thems might be fighting words to some hardcore Mad Max fans out there, but I will stand by them, because I truly believe that Fury Road is the most complete and thought-out version of this world since Beyond Thunderdome. And with that sentence, I have truly ticked off at least one Road Warrior purest out there.
Look the long and short of it is that George Miller gets better every time he makes one of these films. Max is a character who was born of vengeance, and when vengeance was his, he became a man who just wished to exist and nothing more. But in his heart, beneath the overwhelming instinct to survive, there is still the remnants of a good man, and with each film, Max gets a little bit closer to rediscovering his humanity. This all sounds very thoughtful for an insane two-hour chase movie, but Miller has always taken the time to show that the people involved in his insane machinations are thinking and feeling beings who must suffer the consequences of -- not just the other characters, but of their own choices as well. So, while you travel down the madness that is Fury Road (they do not travel down one damn road in this entire movie), you never feel too numbed or ostracized from the proceedings because you are constantly reminded that there are people involved worth investing your emotions in.
Mad Max: Fury Road is the finest action movie that we’ve seen in... well, probably a decade. This is because George Miller comes from a forgotten school of action filmmaking which believes that if you actually let your audience see what is going on, then they might actually give a damn about it. Well, 98% percent of the critics on rottentomatoes.com certainly give a damn about it, as it is currently one of the best-reviewed films of the year. Mad Max has returned, and with him comes a quality in filmmaking that avid filmgoers like myself have been missing for quite sometime. The only thing more insane than Mad Max: Fury Road is the idea that George Miller might be able top it if a sequel is ever ordered. And the day that we get another film like Fury Road will be lovely day indeed.
- Greg McIver, YH Staff