Honest review, this time after my second viewing and 20% added sense with nothing but tons and tons of text for you to read...
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
At first, Mad Max: Fury Road
is a difficult entry for an unprepared eye: frames are violently plucked out in the editing suite and serve as a in-your-face, brutal and effective reminders that you're in the hands of a veteran mad man - George Miller
(Mad Max Trilogy, The Witches of Eastwick, Babe
) - that you're entering his postapocalyptic dominion and, finally, that there's really no turning back so you better pedal faster and adapt as fast as you can, or drown in the oversaturated pool of visual information. After series of half-animated (Babe
) and fully animated (Happy Feet
) projects, failed superhero ideas (Justice League
), at last, there was a lot more to say when it comes to a long hybernated mad franchise. As I was slowly but surely adapting to this freshly painted Caravaggio
-styled treatment of neverending desert scenery (South Africa serving as Australia), to this madness in motion, Fury Road
also kept roaring and rampaging forward, almost non-stop, whispering gently to my ears: The cabin has been depressurized, your senses are now fully stabilized.
Mind you, Fury Road
works even better the second time round, as any great movie does, after the initial shock.
But I wouldn't label it under instantly great filmmaking, especially after a revisited projection, if it weren't for compelling storytelling, for all the characters I actually cared about, little distinctive details that made them both likeable and more humane than your usual, post-2000, action storytelling (that's if we're lucky enough there is
any). After all, there's only so much of vehicular post-atomic circus your brain can take before flipping the desk. Not so much if the experience is filled with memorable, interesting, quirky individuals. Like the ultimate tool boy on his way to chromed and shiny Carhalla - Nux (Nicholas Hoult
having lots of fun - Witness!
) - or unforgettable heroine icon on par with Hamilton's
Connor or Weaver's
Ripley - Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron
chewing through metal and bone to prove just how fearless she is) - and her fair skinned breeding wives (The Dag remains my favorite); or, you know, Max Rockatansky himself (Tom Hardy
, mumbling neanderthal slowly rediscovering his humanity, Muzzle off!
Most of the reviews and forum snippets are commenting on his character as more of a footnote to madness, supplement to all the girls, as if he's not equal to Furiosa, when they really are one and the same, they co-exist in a similar state of mind which can only be redeemed through lots of pain and fire and, unfortunately - death. It's also that thin red line between life and death that plays a major role in strenghtening the thematical core of Fury Road
. At one point Dag (Abbey Lee
) says bullets are like anti-seeds, you plant one in someone and watch it die. Later in the movie, one of the many memorable female roles, Keeper of the Seeds (Melissa Jaffer
), keeps all kinds of ex-Earth plants in her pocket, she is a survivor and environmentally born killer, but the seeds are there to be planted, to produce life within ruined soil. Water, milk, gasoline and blood - essential fluids that drive both sides in the movie serve as a symbolic bridge between antagonists (controlling end of the chain) and protagonists (receiving, suffering end). The main goal is to cut the control and open the valve for all life to flourish once again.
Characters are in constant run from the feral pack that chases them, desperately trying to find purpose on the end line: be a mother and a woman and not
a breeding stock, be a citizen of the world and not
a slave of the self-imposed, cannibalistic rulers. Even the titular hero Max starts as a mere thing, someone's strapped up blood bag with short life expectancy, but then eventually ends up willingly giving his blood to another human being. It all comes back to those lines in Immortan's chamber: WE ARE NOT THINGS.
Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves?
The answer is home, implied in the movie several times using different names.
One of the main reasons you care for all of this is because good people die in this movie and Miller manages to fill in his thick hand-drawn storyboard map with enough expectations flipped on their unprotected tiny head that it always hurts, or surprises, even makes you laugh at times.
Naturally, with all great work of art, other game makers compliment each other - John Seale
, The Talented Mr. Ripley
) beautifully captures constantly shifting, moving environment, producing several spine-shivering moments along the way, while Tom Holkenborg
aka Junkie XL
(what a lovely unfavourable nickname) rocks and rolls the music of a world dying in it's own filth and insanity - so why not die in fucking style? Rock on, all day - all night. There's a moment where even Max fights using extravagant electric guitar in the beat of a soundtrack, like Fury Road
wants to tell you that, despite all the thriller and fear of not-making-it-out-alive, it's also extremely self-aware and self-sufficient, drawing from it's rich world bible, that Fury Road
can take it all in without fear of imploding; by the point you reach the climax, boundaries do not exist - equivalent of a mad artist throwing paint all over a meticulously staged composition like all the work beforehand didn't matter - this, now
Mad Max: Fury Road
is a movie in which action, truly, tells the story - almost a silent era movie, The Birth of a Nation
, this time in bright color, in not-so-far future.
On a timeline, it's nothing but a straight line to Immortan Joe's personal hell, it's also an old school filmmaking, a hunchback tree decorated with potent world building, outrageous fetishistic ideas, tender (and also horrific) moments of raw humanity and, ultimately, it's one of those movies I can only hope audiences will award with multiple viewings, speaking up just how desperately we need something truly unique and awe-inspiring every once in a while, to remind us why we go to the movies in the first place.