The 4th installment of Mad Max is an adrenaline-surging visual feast and a technical feat, but its essentially just one long chase scene as empty as the vast nothingness of its barren landscape. But then again, who cares?
In the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and everyone is fighting for the necessities of life, there are two rebels who just might be able to restore order—Max (Tom Hardy), a man of action and few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos, and Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman of action who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.
The Mad Max franchise rises from the dunes with a fitting fourth installment.
George Miller brings back the post-apocalyptic world of Max with consistent visual imagery and more tricks. The production design stays true to its roots with more creative ways to show the savagery of its dystopia, including a “blood bag” strapped to a car and women milked like cows.
The cinematography here is great, with yellow soaked days, cool purple nights and somber vignetted departures of its characters. A simple mirage across the desert could easily be a barbaric horde.
The action sequences deliver as promised, with more than just dusty old vehicles smashing into each other. Wide angle shots capture acrobatic fighting sequences and devastating sand storms. Miller has also kept up with the times, using a fast stop motion trick for some actions scenes.
The more experienced actors are able to lift up their thin characters. Charlize Theron steals the show as Furiosa, communicating both desperation and determination through her steely eyes. Nicholas Hoult rises to the occasion with the best character arc in the movie, embodying the religious fanaticism that human beings easily fall into in times of desperation. Tom Hardy is capable as the taciturn Max, a type of character that he does pretty well as evidenced by his performance in Lawless.
Even though it has a Hollywood sheen, Mad Max doesn’t exploit its female characters and doesn’t have any contrived action scenes. In the hands of a lesser director controlled by some greedy producer, it could have easily turned into a Transformers kind of trainwreck.
Overall though, its just one long car chase.
Its relentless high octane action can get tiresome, broken only by a minuscule narrative reprieve. The CGI effects look obviously fake that it appears cartoonish.
Max takes a back seat to his own film, easily upstaged by Charlize Theron. The rest of the wives would have made more impact if they were filled in with better actresses. There’s not much to emotionally invest in and the film assumes you already know its iconic character.
But then again, Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t here to ponder about morality and ethics in a post-apocalyptic world. It does what its supposed to do with artistic discipline despite its excess (as you would expect from a movie originating from an 80’s hit). This installment is a worthy follow-up that gives us another look at a unique vision. It delivers exactly what the audiences want and definitely worth seeing in the cinema.
Most of all in the end, it tells us that the road to redemption is not always a righteous path and you may not be able to escape the inevitable, but you can make the change to defy it.
My Rating: 8.5/10