Director: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
The Mad Max franchise is solid gold. Well, assuming that you’re a fan of psychotic Australian post-apocalyptic action films, but really who isn’t? This series of films has more than a cult following, which would only secure its place as a very weird yet very popular niche movie. No, it’s more than that; loved by critics & audiences alike, defining an era, launching a career, and cementing itself as more than one-of-a-kind. Or three-of-a-kind, more accurately: Mad Max, Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome. These are movies that you must see, must know, and need to appreciate, if not exactly understand. Fury Road is no different, another epic survival tale following our hero, the lone wolf of the wasteland. But it’s been 30 years since director George Miller last attempted this continuing saga, you wonder if there might be some rust. Well, wonder no more. There isn’t.
In the desert of a blighted land, every man is crazy. You’d have to be to survive, to do what it takes, to kill or be killed, to push yourself (and your car) farther than you ever thought you could go. For Max, life is a harsh reminder of the past, of ghosts that will never leave him in peace. Oh and evil rovers on souped-up dune buggies, those too. Max’s newest enemies are the War Boys, led by Immortan Joe, a tyrant of the Citadel who controls the water and therefore controls the people. His obsession is clean offspring, sons free of the diseases inherent in the world, and so he prizes his beautiful breeders above all else. But they’ve just gone missing, freed by the iron-willed Furiosa, who will now team up with Max to get the girls to safety, find the legendary Green Place, and rid them all of the guilt of living when so many have died.
But that won’t be easy, and, as Furiosa puts it, everything hurts in the wasteland. The breeders aren’t accustomed to life outside their jailed existence in the Citadel, nor are they prepared to kill anything that moves, which is what is so often required. And also, Furiosa & Max don’t quite see eye to eye, each forcing their party in directions that further their own goals. Add in a War Boy who has become a crafty stowaway, a gang of bikers who control the pivotal pass, a treacherous mud bog, & the ever-closing Immortan Joe at your back, and you’ve got yourself an adventure. Our heroes will have to count every bullet, make every kill count, spill gallons of blood, and put the pedal to the metal if they’re to have any hope of a future, of redemption, of a life that isn’t controlled by the madman who will stop at nothing to destroy them all.
Fury Road is one colossal action sequence with a few scattered moments of humanity. Twisted humanity, barely humanity, a mind-boggling alternate dystopic version of humanity, but humanity nonetheless. And as a genre that let’s us down more often than not, you’d think the never-ending, heart-pounding, explosion-laden action would turn us off from liking this movie. But they didn’t, and there’s a simple reason why; because they were crafted by a genius. George Miller may only do one thing well, but he does that thing so well that he becomes a little action god who can literally do no wrong. The constant violence & insane pace of this film are parts of the Mad Max world he creates, not something manufactured to impress audiences. And so the action feels natural in a way in can never feel in other films, regular in a world gone mad, typical for the lives of the people who are unlucky enough to still be alive. Every minute is filled with death & drama, yet it never gets old. I’d call that genius, wouldn’t you?
Perhaps you expected to love this movie, as I did, expected to dig the action, the fictional world, the odd language, the accents, the dust, the gas-guzzling pseudo-vehicles. But what I didn’t see coming was Charlize Theron. I knew she was in the movie, thought she’d play a part in the story, but I didn’t expect her to be the main character. And in a movie whose title comes from Tom Hardy’s role, why would I? But she was undoubtedly the lead. It was her drive, her motivation, her heart, that kept the plot going. Max became a narrator in a sense, a tool in the mission, but not a person that the movie relied upon. So Furiosa became the heroine, with Max as her sidekick in a strange way, and what’s most surprising is that it worked. Had Hardy been the only focal point perhaps we would have lost interest, perhaps we wouldn’t have been able to keep ourselves from comparing him to Mel Gibson, perhaps there would have had a been-there-done-that feeling. It’s hard to predict, but what I know is that Miller got it right. He brought the franchise back to life, gave us the pieces we always loved, twisted the frame of the story just enough, and turned the volume up to eleven.
Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 1080p HD 16×9, the Blu-ray is fully designed to blow your mind. The film was shot using five different cameras: Arri Alexa M, Arri Alexa Plus, Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Olympus P5. Every shot was created with indescribable detail and rich tone. The quality of the Blu-ray disc brings out the pain-staking work that went into every scene, every pan, and every phenomenal explosion. The stunts were real, the cars were real, the minute pieces of metal on every car & creature were real. Be ready to see a clarity & color that you don’t get every day.
Audio – The Blu-ray disc was done in Dolby Atmos, with a choice between English and English Descriptive Audio 5.1. Also, in Dolby Digital, your choices are Francais 5.1 Dubbed, Espanol 5.1, or Portugues. Subtitles can be chosen in English SDH, Francais, Espanol, or Portugues. The audio quality of the Blu-ray is just as blastingly beautiful as the video, but perhaps just a touch too much so in some moments. Blu-rays too often tend to crank up the effect volume while keeping the dialogue sound on low. This leads to blast-out moments and you possibly having to keep a remote in hand. Still, with incredible effects & a great rock soundtrack, the greatness of the audio can’t be denied.
Extras – There are a large number of exciting extras on the Blu-ray disc. Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road – 28 mins – behind the scenes, interviews, on set in Africa. Mad Max: Fury on Four Wheels – 22 mins – car design, vehicles as an extension of wardrobe. The Road Warriors: Max & Furiosa – 11 mins – character study of the two leads, the transition from Mel to Tom. The Tools of the Wasteland – 14 mins – prop details, minute addictions to a wacky world. The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome – 11 mins – interviews with the ladies, their characters combined as notes in a melody. Fury Road: Crash or Smash – 4 mins – a combination of pre-production tests and raw footage. Deleted Scenes – I Am a Milker (30 secs), Turn Every Grain of Sand! (2 mins), Let’s Do It (1 min).
DVD Talk Collector Series. After my third time watching this film, I realized something: that I’m hard-wired to like action movies. I thought that a bit strange, since so many action flicks have been so disappointing in recent years and the genre as a whole has taught me to stay away. But it’s only that not many directors have been producing action correctly, we’ve all become a bit jaded, and ‘action’ has begun to mean stupid gunfights & judo chops. Not anymore, and I’m proud to say that my natural testosterone has finally been appeased. Fury Road is what we’ve been waiting for, and we can only hope that more will follow. The video quality is beyond belief, the audio just as strong, and the extras both plentiful & wonderful. With resoundingly positive reviews, this film still isn’t for everyone, though neither is the Mad Max franchise as a whole. It’s still action, still over-the-top, still insane, and can’t possibly be loved by all. But 9 out of 10 ain’t bad, as they say, and that seems to be the number of people who absolutely adore this wonderfully exciting & furiously entertaining film. I hope you’ll join me as one of them.
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay