“Oh, what a day… what a lovely day!” It’s that line (and so many others) that are a part of the never ending roaring adventure that the latest Mad Max movie unapologetically takes you on from scene to scene. It’s got a twisted little heart, this movie. We open with our hero and his legendary car having things go so very wrong for him so quickly. It sets in motion some extraordinarily brutal moments that illustrate for us the world Max and the rest of the cast have been living. This movie is violent. It is dark. And it is a bleak view of the post apocalyptic world that somehow through George Miller’s direction maintains the beauty of the landscape and those that are dragged through the dust that rests upon it.
Max is a warrior. He doesn’t trust anyone. It leads to a moment in which I frowned, wondering if they were going to make me hate the Road Warrior but it is brutally resolved as the language of the world is meted out through haymakers, punches, kicks and blood. You are given glimpses into the madness of our hero character and why he ended up this way. You have to fill in some gaps here and this is where the idiom of showing and not telling works wonders. I could fill in with a few of my own ideas and create a backstory through those flashbacks. I could have imagined him having a similar origin story from the original three films or I could have gone with the fan favorite that our current Max is the Feral Child from the original Mad Max movie. There’s plenty of story to fill in here on your own.
Theron is brilliant as Imperator Furiosa and it is refreshing to see her and Max interact on equal terms – along with the women who are riding with Furiosa. Everyone has a part to play in this epic two hours film and it was hard walking out of the theatre not wanting just a little more action. And it is action. And it is violent. It earns the R rating.
These characters live in a hopeless world filled with vagabonds, torture kings and murderous bands of bikers. It is a study in our humanity to imagine a world gone so wrong that this would be a possibility. But there are moments of heroism and goodness among the pack of thieves that populate the cast. Nux’s arc specifically is rewarding as a young antagonist who comes to understand there is more to the world than the life he’s lived under Immortan Joe and his brothers. As the story progresses you get glimpses of hope that flickers across the cadre of condemned despite Max’s statement, “You know, hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane.” In a twisted little way – they prove him wrong in the end.
I’ll certainly buy this on DVD, if that helps you understand the quality of the film. I will caution this – it’s rated R. It’s an adult movie with intensity requiring the discernment of an adult mind. People die and not in a nice way. There’s a scene involving the pregnant character that was a body blow to me as I watched it play out on the screen. It is particularly affecting given the ongoing arc of character, The Splendid Angharad. It will give you further reasons to hate the bad guys in this movie – which is how it’s supposed to work. Interestingly – this is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who played in the third Transformers movie. And my goodness she’s a fantastic actress in this movie. She’s come a long way.
Catch this movie if you can (and if you’re 18 or your parents accompany you) and take some time to marinate on the words of both Max and Furiosa when they speak of “redemption” and what that means for them. Enjoy the soundtrack as well and catch it on Spotify/wherever you find your music. It’s impressive that the music instills terror as you listen and imagine the scenes of Fury Road playing out in your head.