Oh what a film. What a lovely film!
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015): In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.
Wow. It takes a lot for a film to leave me completely speechless in the moments after watching it. Gravity did it back in 2013. Whiplash did it in 2014. (Multiple times, mind you-that's how great that film is) And now, Mad Max: Fury Road has done it. This film....this film gives me hope for the industry. I hope people like Michael Bay and Zack Snyder sit down and realize this is how you film a big budget action film. This film is beautifully stylistic, incredibly well shot, deep with narrative, and amazingly acted. In short, Mad Max: Fury Road sets a new standard for what the action genre can (and should) be.
A thesis could be written about this film. I'm not kidding. But we only have time to scratch the surface of this 120 minute piece of cinema. First off, stylistically, this film is a masterpiece. George Miller is a creative genius, and his ability to make the Australian Outback look as beautiful as it does in this film, despite the fact that it's all, you know, one color, is an incredible feat in and of itself. Nothing against the Outback: it is definitely beautiful in its own right. But it's one color. And rather than shy away from this fact, Miller embraces it and, with outstanding costumes and brilliant cinematography, (there has to be some filters on this) puts this film stylistically on the same level as a Wes Anderson film. Those two must be bffs. But watch a film like Mission Impossible 2 and how it shoots the Australian Outback versus how Mad Max: Fury Road shoots it. You'll see my point.
Since I've brought up cinematography, let's talk about it, ya? Cinematography is where most action movies fail. Many directors have adopted either the Michael Bay or JJ Abrams style of shooting an action film. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean we bash Michael Bay films all the time because his characters are about as deep as a paper plate, but his films are as successful as they are because that's what mainstream moviegoers want to see. Frantic camera moves (shaky cam and lens flares in Abrams case) and as much crap as possible on the screen. More more more! Both directors are excellent in their own right, but for those who want quality over quantity, that's something that's hard to come by in this genre. But then George Miller comes around and reminds us that yes, quality can still happen. The films great combination of huuuuuuuge soaring wide shots, allowing you to see everything happening at any given moment and dramatic, 80's-style close ups, all while never using hand cams creates an incredible viewing experience. And leaves you breathless after the sequence is over. Dear God: if you like action films, go see this film on the biggest screen possible. You'll thank me later. Even if you haven't seen any of the other films. It doesn't matter-you'll catchup just fine.
Finally, I want to talk about the acting. I. Love. Tom. Hardy. I'm hoping this is the role that finally breaks him into the mainstream again, because it's criminal to me that people still think of him as Bane, easily his weakest performance in the last 5 years. The dude has been tearing it up in the indie genre these last few years, and he's rapidly becoming my favorite actor in the business. His role as Mad Max is yet another phenomenal performance from him. And then there's Charlize Theron. Yes, "men's rights activists", this film is really about her. Get over it. It's been a while since Theron has turned the acting chops on, so it was nice to see her shine as well. Nicholas Hoult is great as well. Honestly, this film is very well-acted, with everyone, including the MVP guitarist, taking their roles very seriously.
In conclusion, this film is perfect. It does slow down a bit at the start of the third act, but I think everyone can agree that we really needed a second to catch our breaths before the conclusion. If you enjoy action films, this film is the definition of a must-see. I'm really hoping it doesn't get lost in the commotion of the big corporate films being released right now that are Pitch Perfect 2 (which easily beat it at the box office opening weekend) and Tomorrowland, which drops this upcoming weekend, but we'll see. Hopefully word-of-mouth advertising will help this film recoup its $150 million budget, so after you see this film and realize how great it is, spread the word! Get your friends to see it! Mad Max is counting on you!
The Critique: The action genre done right. Mad Max: Fury Road is easily the best big-budget action film we've seen in a long time.
The Recommendation: A must-see for everyone, but especially those who like Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, cars, and, well, action. And feminists! After all, Theron is an awesome power-female lead. More films need to adopt a Charlize Theron-like character in their supposed "guy" movies.
Rewatchability: Absurdly High
The Verdict: 10/10 Perfect.
Oscar Talk: I'm sure we'll see this film again come Oscar season, at the very least for visual effects. Even though this film has very VERY little CGI in it. Fun fact: almost all the crashes and explosions in this film were real. That's what a 16 year production cycle and $150 million budget will get you!
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