Movie Breakdown: Mad Max: Fury Road (Noah)

May 14, 2015


People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

I don’t know if any movie has me more excited than Mad Max: Fury Road. Everything up to this point involving Mad Max has been done to perfection – casting, trailers (all of them were like mini-movies), the descriptions of what it took to bring this to life – and my hype level is so high I’m almost worried.

The Reality:

Big John Laird doesn’t like it when I get overly excited, or when start hacking up hyperbole, but after spending two hours in the new world of Mad Max, I can’t do anything but that. Mad Max: Fury Road is an absolute blast. The kind of blockbuster that hasn’t been made since the 80s. This is not a film beholden to the tropes of the big budget action movie. This is a film that feels like the work of a brand new director saying “fuck you” to the stereotypes of action – how it’s filmed, how the sound works, how the camera moves – and doing exactly what they want. George Miller is clearly a genius who’s been sitting the dark room of his mind for ten years sussing out the craziest things he could do with people on cars. I don’t want to say a single thing about what this movie is about or what happens, but just know that Miller mixes the concept of car-chases, post-apocalyptic society, and the hierarchical structure of how things work (in a world that doesn’t exist) and creates a world that could, in some sick, sad way, fully function. It’s, to say the least, visually amazing – every detail fleshed out to operate, pragmatically, in this universe. No character doesn’t fit into the world he’s built, but each of them, based on class and context, is given room to shine. Tom Hardy’s Max is a more literal version of “Mad”, a man consumed by his past, just trying to survive in a world gone completely fucked up. His pairing with a group of seemingly helpless baby-brides and a brutal, but sensitive, captain, slowly brings him back from the edge, and the full-tilt, full-throttle ride it takes to get there is something to behold. At some point in the middle of the film I felt a tinge of “oh, maybe I don’t like that” but as walked out of the theater, my head spinning with images of flame-throwing guitars, desert moto-women, and exploding lances, I couldn’t (and can’t) remember what it was. See this film. See it twice. And then see it again.

The Lesson:

George Miller very subtly makes this a film about female empowerment. The moment where Max passes his rifle (“one shot left”) into the hands of Charlize Theron and she BALANCES it on his shoulder to make a perfect shot is a beautiful, fun, moment that showcases Miller’s ease at creating strong female characters without having to spray paint it in enormous letters on the wall.

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