“What a lovely day!”
Indeed. Where do I even start?
From the crazy frantic onset to the crashing denouement there is little time for pause (let alone breathing) in George Miller’s Fury Road. As an edition to the Mad Max series it is a full on adrenaline injecting metal and dust bust up, surely embodying a prime in artistry for Miller as a filmmaker. One could say that cinematic technology has caught up with Miller’s visions, and that he takes that opportunity with extreme relish.
Tom Hardy is an excellent choice as the new Max. Max Rockatansky is a man trying to survive while constantly running from his demons. Hardy takes on Max’s jacket as his own, silent, strong, and mysteriously complex that it’s almost scary to pry further. Max is on the run in a world that is bereft and dry to the bone, looking to get away from all attachments and trouble, or not. He’s captured and used as an involuntary blood donor (blood bag) for Nux, a follower of the big gross baddie, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Mad Max‘s Toe-Cutter). Badass Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) comes in and initiates action and, in turn, a glorious rebellion. Characters become names and actions, their collective souls and resilience displayed in the consequences. Cue dystopian Canonball Run on hyperdrive.
Limbs are gashed off. Machinery and autos destroyed in battles that leave the eyes exhausted from the spectacle, yet:
Over 80% of the effects seen in the film are real practical effects, stunts, make-up and sets. CGI was used sparingly mainly to enhance the Namibian landscape, remove stunt rigging and for Charlize Theron’s left hand which in the film is a prosthetic arm. -IMDB
Miller came back, not just for a new Max, but to show all action filmmakers (not just young ones), where they came from and how they could do better.
George Miller co-wrote Fury Road with Brendan McCarthy (illustrator and writer of episodes of ReBoot ) and Nick Lathorouis (Grease Rat from Mad Max). It speaks to the illustrator in McCarthy that most scenes felt like they were pulled from comic books, while the film remained grounded Mad Max flavour with Lathorouis’s inclusion. Miller’s post-apocalyptic world is rendered lucidly with new eyes and a great fervour for entertainment. Cinematographer John Seale’s (Harry Potter and The Scorer’s Stone, The English Patient), talents are put to optimum use in choices for harshly tinted sepias in scorching actions sequences and a particularly tragic moment of crushing ennui: giant crows circling around desert people on stilts. Fury Road‘s world is inhuman, existing only because people still fight on it. People still live because they know nothing else. Furiosa shouts frustration into the ether. Salvador Dali on acid. Dali would approve.
In a messed up world where people take arrows out of their heads instead of rolling around in the sand in pain, women are shown kicking ass and manifesting strength in a myriad of ways. They don’t all have to be quick thinking boy-like Furiosa. Women can be the grandmother who’s lost it all or the delicate, but strong hearted mother-to-be who’s got nothing to lose. Imagine a world where women can take on any role. They stand up because they have to. Miller’s makes his women speak so well, loudly so, and if Fury Road is feminist propaganda, sign me the hell up. Give me more. Take me where women matter again.
The problem (if you can ever call a good movie a problem) with having Fury Road exist in the film world right now are statements like this (I’m paraphrasing here): “Setting a standard for action/summer blockbuster film.” I can hear money hungry executives foaming at the mouth for cheaper versions of the same thing.
Why can’t a film stand out on it’s own? I’d love for more films to create the same roller coaster effect that this film does with expert modulation in editing and direction. But we don’t need more Fury Road clones.
We just need better filmmaking. Take that as you will.