Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road
No matter what anyone says about this movie, one thing is for certain. You won’t find another movie quite like this one in our age of cinematic entertainment. Action movies nowadays are done a certain way. Choreographed fight scenes, filler romance, contrived conveniences, and CGI-filled mayhem is what we have become accustomed to. But with Mad Max: Fury Road, you get something quite unique. The only movie I can compare to this one is Death Proof, one half of the Grindhouse feature films that Tarantino blessed us with years ago. Whereas that movie was one chase sequence that filled 75% of the movie, this one is multiple chase sequences that fill up 90% of it. So let’s get started.
Mad Max: Fury Road’s concept is simple in that it is entirely straightforward. Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) gets captured by a group called the War Boys who are an army led by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who is very much played like the leader of a fanatical cult. He gets imprisoned and used as a “blood bag” for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a War Boy with an undisclosed illness who wants very much to do something spectacular in his remaining days. Meanwhile, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) takes her War Rig filled with endless weapons to collect gasoline for Joe. Furiosa ends up going off route with Joe’s Wives (who are used for breeding purposes). Joe notices they are gone and leads a movie-long chase after her. Max catches up with her eventually and joins her in her quest.
That’s the story. She is going somewhere and Joe is trying to stop her. This starts an hour and a half long mash of chase scenes. The story isn’t going to impress. It is very simple. A lot of it isn’t explained to the viewer. You may leave with questions. Viewers may not like the route the filmmaker went in by not over-explaining things. He didn’t over-explain but he just didn’t really explain things. George Miller has made it clear that he prefers practical effects over all of the computer generated stuff. This is something that I really liked because I feel that a lot of movies, at least recently, have had to rely too heavily upon CGI to tell their story. And as much as CGI can make a movie look good, sometimes by looking good, the storytelling and character development elements get lost in the shuffle. So in this movie, the chase is definitely on. And on. And on. The chase really feels like it’s never going to stop.
It wasn’t a lovely day, after all…
That is both the good and bad thing about Mad Max. The chase is relentless, thrilling, and it looks really cool. But that is also the film’s downfall. On one hand, it will have you on the edge of your seat. But on the other, it never stops and had me checking my watch/phone clock to see just when this movie was going to end. It was relentless; I will give it that. But I can’t like a movie just because the vehicular carnage looks cool. And some of the elements that could have been attributed to story and character development got lost in the mix. I know that I should have gone into the movie with the expectations of just enjoying all of the action, but I can’t do that. I can’t shut my brain off for two hours and just look at eye-popping explosions. That is the problem I have with a lot of action movies of late (I’m looking at you Avengers 2). Yeah, they look amazing but that’s it. What else is there? The story isn’t the best and I look for a good story. That is what I expect from a legitimately good movie. And Mad Max, as good as it looked and as fun as it was, definitely lacked in the story department. And seeing how I didn’t grow up watching the original movies with Mel Gibson, I didn’t go into this expecting anything particular.
Seriously, what’s up with the guitar? Your clan has a shortage of gasoline…
Max as a character is interesting to a point. He has brief and vivid flashbacks that clearly haunt him, but his purpose is clear in the beginning narration: he just has to survive. Outside of his broken past and guilt, Max is not a very interesting character. Tom Hardy does well with hiding his accent, but when he only has a few lines in the movie, it doesn’t really matter. He is the supporting character in his own movie. The main star here is Charlize Theron and she takes that mantle with ease. She was clearly the most interesting character on screen and really the only one I gave a crap about. She is a bad ass, plain and simple. She shows her pain and need for redemption on her face and she does it well. But there are questions that never get answered. Why is she seeking redemption? What did she do? You don’t get the answer but as a lone female leader in a predominantly male cult group, one would assume she had to do some pretty disgusting things to survive and get to where she got.
It may seem like I’m hating on the movie’s chase scenes, but I’m not. I was very impressed with how good this movie looked. The landscape and all of the chase scenes were very well-directed and elaborate, but that can only go so far. The focus on the chase alone makes it almost one-dimensional. And for about half of the movie, Mad Max’s utter disinterest in screenwriting and storytelling is refreshing and gives you a small sense of freedom. The other half though, gets repetitive and tedious. Miller always wants to keep making the stakes higher with his well-crafted chase sequences, but that gets boring eventually. I want more from a movie. And it may have been the theater I was in, but I could barely understand what anybody in the movie was actually saying. I could understand Tom Hardy’s three lines and most of Theron’s delivery. The rest though was either drowned-out by the intense score filled with beating drums or just incoherent. And about that drum-beating score, I am torn. One side of the coin, it really amped up the intense moments with the loud deep bass notes. But the other side of it, how many times have we gotten this same score? It’s very similar to the booming sounds that Hans Zimmer got ridiculed for in Inception. It was very similar and I am still not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. Just look at South Park’s hilarious take on it.
This may not be a bad movie, but it is just about what you expect. It is an action thrill ride. Sadly, it isn’t much more than that. Outside of Theron’s character, you couldn’t care less about the other characters. The wives that they are trying to protect are bland and uninteresting. Kudos to Theron to making it seem like an important and heroic task but they are just there to look good. And that is the whole theme of the movie: looking good. But looking good and being good are two completely different things. And I did expect more out of Nicholas Hoult’s character. At the end of the day, he is just a simple War Boy who wants to join the heroes on their quest. And that is Mad Max’s biggest problem. The stakes are always getting higher and higher, but you never really care a whole lot about the characters involved in that struggle.
THINGS I LIKED
- The action scenes were well-executed and looked amazing
- The landscape was as impressive as the explosions
- Charlize Theron
- Not forcing a romance was a good idea
THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE
- Lack of storytelling and character development
- Outside of the main characters, you don’t really care what happens to these people
- Musical score was so overbearing at times, I couldn’t hear the dialogue
- Give Tom Hardy more lines please
- As good as the action is, it gets repetitive