When every summer blockbuster season begins, I find myself immersed in a wave of trailers that feature spectacular effects and big name stars, but many a time, the movies spend too much of their money on the effects and not enough time on the story. The night before seeing Mad Max, I went to see the new installment of the Fast and Furious franchise (review pending), which while dominating in great effects and stunts lacked much in terms of narrative. After seeing the fully charged trailer for Mad Max, I expected it to be exactly the same, but was pleasantly surprised by the final product. While it’s narrative strengths are no where near the standard of say Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, it still has enough depth to make the movie worth-while when the characters aren’t engulfed in a wave of horse-power driven madness. I have never seen any of the original films, limiting my ability to compare those to this new entry; however, I was still able to follow the storyline with ease, as it wasn’t overly complicated. There was a enough of a story to give purpose to the awe-inspiring actions sequences yet still be simple enough where we don’t have to spend too much time trying to figure out what is going on. The narrative is strong in a simplistic way, and gives us many reasons to like the characters and empathize with their given situation. George Miller creates this fantastic post-apocalyptic world in which the remaining human population has been reduced to basic animalistic instincts, primarily survival. The fantastic world and solid enough storyline are what give a backbone to the fantastic car chases that are the primary focus of the film.
This horsepower driven madness, however, is what really makes the film soar. The action sequences are so well crafted and so beautifully shot that there are times when you are tricked into thinking: wait a minute…this might actually count as a chaotic work of art. The action scenes are so well formulated that they seem to serve a purpose other than pleasing the young fifteen year olds that managed to sneak their way into a showing. The characters themselves had interesting personalities enough to where they are more than just pawns on the screen driving the action stunts. It is fun to watch the characters interact, especially the emotionally charged Max (Tom Hardy) and the seemingly cool and collected Furiosa (Charlize Theoren). The cast was brilliantly selected and the score matches the movie perfectly, enhancing the action sequences, as all musical scores should. Having a slave strapped to a car blasting away at an electrical guitar with the sole purpose of providing an extra-layer of sound is pure brilliance. Mad Max is the best action film I have seen this year and possible one of the best since the turn of the century. It’s a barnstorming, gasoline driven, and artistic spectacle with heart and emotion that creates a truly satisfying movie experience. The only thing I think is missing would be an extra ten or fifteen minutes of background setting or narrative building since the film does only run for 120 minutes, a relatively short time for summer action films. While not required in this instance, it would give the film an additional layer that we can sink our teeth into.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) 3.5/4 stars