By Jacob Nangle ‘18, Staff Writer
In an age of reboots, sequels, and spin-offs, one had to guess that Mad Max, George Miller’s Australian, dystopian-action franchise, would be one to receive a reboot. Thirty-one years since Thunderdome, Mad Max: Fury Road creates a fresh new vision, all while adding an unexpected amount of heart into the film.
The 2015 film follows Max, played by actor Tom Hardy, as he joins forces with Imperator Furiosa, played by actress Charlize Theron, as they try to escape the clutches of villain Immortan Joe, played by actor Hugh Keays-Byrne, in what unexpectedly evolves to a complex story about morals and justice.
John Seale’s riveting cinematography puts the viewer into the Mad Max universe in an entirely new and different way. The set designs excellently exemplify the benefits of creating a more realistic environment through practical effects. Even the finer details, such as the color of the film, are stunning additions that make the Mad Max universe feel as though it has just come to life. For example, there is a sequence entirely shot in blue. The quiet, eerie, and still tone of this film leaves the viewer curious and unsettled at the same time.
Tom Hardy fully embraces the character of Max. In fact, he fits perfectly into the role, even in scenes where he is not speaking. During each of the action-chase sequences, the look of determination and inner aggression on Hardy’s face show his pain, passion, and drive to achieve greatness, not just within the role of Max, but within himself as an actor. Not to mention, the action driven and determinated Imperator Furiosa, played by Theron, is one of her greatest on-screen performances to date.
Actor Keays-Byrne will floor anybody who watches this film. There are several scenes during which he goes from being your Average-Joe bad guy, to showing a softer side in conflict with himself. This is not a villain who is ruthless, violent, and destructive. Immortan Joe is a man who has a heart, which makes the movie fascinating.
One who watches Mad Max: Fury Road may also be surprised to find that this movie contains a message about the environment applicable to our world today. Mad Max has always been a series of movies focused on wars over natural resources, asking who has what, and what happens when one individual doesn’t get those materials. Fury Road makes the viewer care far more about this part of the plot than any of the previous Mad Max movies, which makes Fury Road the best Mad Max movie to date. In his review, A.O. Scott of The New York Times remarked how strongly this message was integrated into the convoluted plot. “It’s all great fun, and quite rousing as well- a large-scale genre movie that is at once unpretentious and unafraid to bring home a message,” he said.
In the end, that is what makes Fury Road so great and powerful. It has a real-world message disguised under an exotic storyline, impressive visuals, and fast-paced, wildly entertaining chase sequences which keep the viewers wanting more.
The success of this movie prompts the viewer to ponder what will come next for the franchise. This movie has an overwhelming quantity of strong characters that could become spin off films. The sequels to Fury Road have been confirmed to start a brand new franchise, and already have piqued the interest of many.
Overall, Mad Max: Fury Road was a surprisingly deep movie with stronger emotions than the previous three films. Its message to real world issues surrounding natural resource made the film a fascinating watch, one that is enjoyable again and again.