In proper timing with our lack of care for the environment, politics, and the human condition, George Miller’s fourth installment continues his franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road, for a new generation.
Many centuries have passed to get to where we’re at now, and it’s a broken world of fire and blood. It is impossible to take one step anywhere without feeling some form of pain. People are degraded down to one instinct and one instinct only: survive. The very first thing shown is black and white footage of trees getting obliterated to ashes, cutting to the backside of a lonely cop surveying the barren deserted wasteland that used to be our world. In this potential future, healthy people are practically an extinct species. All women here are slaves in some form, whether it’s as human cows or means of production for the warlord’s future heir. Humans at this point have become simple things depending on the few reptiles and insects left alive for food, and the last bit of water stored at the citadel for hydration.
As we watch the events of this horrific dystopia unfold, we take the perspective of Max (Tom Hardy), the cop seen in the opening frame. Right from our entrance of this relatively sane individual, he is taken, shaved, and given a tattoo on his back saying “universal donor.” He attempts to escape, but his visions of people he failed to save slows him down. Then he is made into a blood bag for a group of the warlord’s heavily diseased soldiers named “War Boys.” It’s ironic though, for a movie called “Mad Max,” there certainly is not as much of Max in it as I hoped, and he’s the least interesting character met in the 2-hour run length.
Rather, the true protagonist of this journey is Furiosa (Charlize Theron), the lead supply-runner of the War Boys in search for giving hope and redemption for the unnecessary structure of rule. Governing over this wasteland is the fatally wounded and heavily diseased Immortan Joe, who must rely on a breathing apparatus with teeth to survive. He gives a frightening presence thanks to his loud, rugged voice gone mad with environmental fatigue. In his eyes, he is the redeemer of the people who deserves their worship, as he has stored up all their water and vegetation in the citadel, sparingly offering it to them.
Everything looks infuriating already, but what really shows the condition of the land is the mode of conflict out in the terrains. Over half of the viewing experience features a series of heart-stopping vehicle battles breathing with intense flames and practical stunts. George Miller proves himself a master at what he does with the way he speeds up the footage at key points to enhance the tension, emphasizing the countless tangible explosions that would give Michael Bay a stroke. The memorable imagery of these wheel-terrain battles stems from the rustic designs of every vehicle that acutely match the personalities of the driver. The impact of each one is felt with their individual sound effects that grips you into the action, forcing you to feel the danger as if there among the chaos. The action sequences are all so easy to keep track of and the tension is held so well, that this whole film could pass as a silent film and still make just as much sense.
I say that George Miller needs to go down in history at once for creating perhaps the most complex, most tangible, most detailed, and most relevant cinematic universe ever imagined. Every frame is unlike anything you’ll ever see, glowing with texture upon each character and prop. The high-contrast color palette of purely orange and teal shades create lots of color, and at the same time, no color. With the exception of the obvious day-for-night photography, each shot is a true work of artistic brilliance.
The culture of this world is created by real history, yet feels entirely original, complete with a Junkie XL score of tribal music mixed with electric instruments. All of the characters even have a certain god that they worship, whether it’s the vehicles or Immortan Joe or whoever will answer. Yet the detail doesn’t even stop there: every last character has a story arc told almost entirely through visuals, and that includes the inanimate objects such as Immortan Joe’s breathing apparatus or Furiosa’s prosthetic arm. I just wish that more focus was put on the actors themselves to bring the most of their complex roles. It was great, but not as impactful as its full potential.
What I can best say about Mad Max: Fury Road is that it stands on its own as the ideal piece of revisionism for how our governmental system should play out. Most if not all the elements are at the top of their game, and every watching is guaranteed to believe that not only does this world exist, but that in a few hundred years, this world could become reality.
Mad Max: Fury Road is not like other movies of the action genre. When this came out May of 2015, an audience sick of movies chocked with CGI and nauseating stunts were blown away by this film’s practical stunts that were easy to follow. Then plenty of other audiences, myself included, were all the more blown away when this film became an unexpected contender at the 2016 Oscar ceremony, winning 6 of its 10 nominations, which included Best Picture. But how could that be? What did the Academy see in this movie that features two hours of nonstop action?
Well, from what I could tell, it tackles virtually every imaginable social issue going on in the world today. You got feminism in Furiosa’s attempt to deliver Immortan Joe’s five wives to the green place; you got environmentalism in the lack of resources available; you got trade federation in the deals set in delivering supplies between the citadel, gas town, the bullet farm, and wherever else resources are found; you got global warming in the dried up seas and vegetation; you got governmental abuse in Immortan Joe’s fascist ideas about keeping the people alive (it’s also worth noting how he bears a striking resemblance to a certain Republican candidate with blonde hair); and you’ve got gun violence losing all control.
Sure, it addresses every social issue under the sun, but what makes this film work is its call to action to prevent us from making this future a reality. Furiosa sees the hope that she can make in this hell of an existence, and tries to set things right by delivering the wives away from Immortan Joe’s imprisonment. Anyone can notice the issues in the world, and anyone has that privilege to make a difference, no matter their condition or economic position.
Just look around you, particularly in ads placed at the shopping mall or in magazines: they’re mostly young ridiculously fit white people who look like they belong on Jersey Shore. People nowadays are so accustomed to noticing the healthy and attractive people in society that anybody else is overlooked. It’s just like in the Mad Max universe: almost everyone has disease and are treated like objects, and any women without any disease are taken to be either a wife or a milk mother. So no matter what position you have in this society, you are being used.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Mad Max Movie. Warner Bros. Pictures. Web. <http://www.madmaxmovie.com/>.
Warner Bros. Pictures. Mad Max: Fury Road - Official Main Trailer [HD]. Digital image. YouTube, 31 Mar 2015. Web. < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEJnMQG9ev8>.