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Mad Max: Fury Road

May 21, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (***)

Over the years I’ve often said that any director attempting to make an action film should be required to watch the second installment in the Mad Max series, The Road Warrior, as it is a yardstick by which all other action pics should be measured. I still stand by that rule and believe that any director that doesn’t try to hit the giddy heights of that 1981 film shouldn’t even bother. I’m not saying that we can expect it to be surpassed but it’s certainly a guidepost for those who don’t know their craft.

The question then, would be, how does the fourth Mad Max film stand up in relation to the other films in the Max series? I would say that it fits squarely, in terms of quality, between the first and second installments and the wildly uneven third film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. While it’s certainly better than the last installment from thirty years ago, it still can’t quite match the intensity of those first two films, which are arguably masterpieces of their kind. Still, taken on its own terms and as a standalone film, Mad Max: Fury Road is a very satisfying piece of entertainment.

The action scenes in Fury Road are miles ahead-no pun intended- of anything that we’re seeing these days in what passes for action films.

Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road

Yes, there is some use of CGI going on in the film but most of the film’s spectacular set pieces are just masterpieces of stunt coordination, editing and direction. It’s the kind of thing that used to be common some thirty plus years ago at the multiplex but is now rarely seen thanks to the cartoonish computer generated action scenes that contemporary films are saddled with these days. Fury Road does things the old fashioned way and it works spectacularly well.

The film opens mid plot as Max (now played by Tom Hardy, taking over for Mel Gibson) is captured by a group of warriors whose mission is a bit vague but becomes clearer as the film goes on. As it turns out the motley crew, with Max in tow, are en route to recover a group of women who are known as breeders, presumably because they are the last women in this futuristic society who can bear children. The breeders have been liberated by the one-armed warrior Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who is intent on leading the women to a better life. Max eventually frees himself from his bondage and helps the women in their mission while the audience is treated to what is essentially one big chase.

If there is a complaint to lodge against the film it would be that the plot just isn’t quite as involving as the earliest installments of the series. Still, what the film lacks in plot it more than makes up for in eye popping stunts and a general sense of quirkiness that I can’t recall seeing in a mainstream Hollywood film in a long time. It may not be perfect but this Mad Max journey proves it’s still a journey worth taking. 

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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