Back in January 2014, I revisited the original Mad Max trilogy with a first-time viewing on Blu-ray. While I enjoy the now-simplistic approach of Mad Max (1979), my favorite of the series has always been The Road Warrior aka Mad Max 2 (1981). My least favorite is still Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). Now, I usually do not review blockbuster movies upon their release here at Monster Movie Kid. However, since I’ve already done the first three films, it would be wrong not to take a look at the fourth film in the franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). So just how is Max Rockatansky doing in this modern CGI and shaky cam world?
For starters, the original trilogy’s director George Miller has returned to the fold. I’ll admit, I was worried going in considering it’s been 30 years and he hasn’t directed anything remotely similar in that time. Would he still have what it takes to immerse us into that post-apocalyptic world? In a quick word…yes! In fact, his old school approach proves he is just the chef that was needed to whip up a recipe of madness and chaos that is Mad Max: Fury Road. While I can enjoy a well-made CGI film, you simply can’t beat traditional special effects in some cases and, according to Miller himself, 90% of this film is old school practical special effects. There are also over 150 stunt performers gracing the screen. You won’t get lost watching the action on the screen because there is no shaky cam. In fact, Miller slows down the frame rate at times to accommodate what you see on screen. The effect is a bit jarring at times but something I can very easily deal with if it means I can actually understand what is going on and I’m not getting seasick from the shakiness of the camera.
The production of the movie started back in 2001 but was delayed due the events of 9-11. Mel Gibson was originally supposed to star but he moved on as the film seemingly was never going to be made. Enter Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Star Trek: Nemesis) as the new Max. This is one of the best casting decisions I’ve seen in a long time. Hardy nails it as Max and, considering he signed on for four films, we’ll be seeing more of him in the future.
If you’re looking for an expansive plot to Mad Max: Fury Road, you need to move on right now. However, if you’re looking for a non-stop two hour thrill ride featuring bizarre characters, crazy vehicles and a lot of mind-blowing effects, then you’re in the right place. The movie is a mild reboot of the original franchise, although it could easily fit in somewhere between The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Society has collapsed after an apocalyptic event. Max is roaming the desert wasteland in his Pursuit Special, although it doesn’t quite figure into the film as much as some would have hoped. Max is still mourning the death of his wife and child. However, the biggest difference that supports the fact that the film is more a reboot than a remake is that Max’s dead son is now a dead adolescent daughter. It’s a minor change but enough to separate it from the first three films.
And if you’re going to nitpick every inconsistency or nonsensical moment, you still need to move on. There are plenty of those moments. Sure, they have a seemingly endless supply of gasoline. Where do they get enough food to feed everyone? How did the women survive in the desert after the Green Place became uninhabitable? I could go on but what’s the point. I can easily turn off my brain and simply enjoy movies like this without having to justify why I enjoyed it. If you can’t, I feel sorry for you. Mad Max: Fury Road is pure entertainment. It’s not meant to be a long-lost work from Shakespeare waiting for an Academy Award.
Miller has turned up the cinematic heat to an eleven here as the action almost never stops. It’s essentially a two hour thrill ride full of crazy characters like our villain Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), our henchman turned good guy Nux (Nicholas Hoult) and our heroine Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron, Prometheus, Aeon Flux). If you want plot, it’s simple enough. Furiosa uses the War Rig to help five of Immortan Joe’s breeding wives to escape in an effort to rejoin her clan. Joe follows with his War Boys and a captured Max in tow. Madness and chaos follow. That’s about all you need to know.
I loved Mad Max: Fury Road. It is one of the most insane action flicks ever made and I enjoyed every moment of it. While The Road Warrior is still my favorite of the franchise, simply because it is a masterpiece, Fury Road far surpasses the ultimately disappointing Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I’ll admit, I was kind of hoping to see an older Max in some sort of framing sequence played by Mel Gibson. And I hate how the Pursuit Special was so easily outdone and, ultimately, destroyed. Those minor quibbles aside, I was not disappointed in the least.
The franchise has been revived and we now know there is more to come. The fifth adventure of Max is set as Mad Max: The Wasteland has apparently been greenlit with Tom Hardy coming back for more. So, while I anxiously wait, do yourself a favor and check out Mad Max: Fury Road. Then, revisit the original franchise to see what the older generation already fell in love more than 30 years ago.