Tom Hardy may be the titular protagonist of this BallsOnFire ride, but Fury Road belongs to its ladies. Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is equal parts badass and compassionate, and for all the tattered clothing and her sad, trombone-esque looks, Theron’s Furiosa is the most empowered female character we’ve seen since a long time in action cinema. The boilerplate femme fatale is gone: here is a woman with such magnificent inner and outer strength that she strikes the rebel inside you alight with outright dominance. The breeders she carries to safety (and hopefully, freedom) join her in kicking butt, and in several instances, prove Miller’s powerful ability to layer his story with elements of extreme social importance that I didn’t expect from the trailers.
George Miller’s genius vision thunders across Fury Road’s narrative, like two bionic arms fattened with the spillage of hell’s shredding demons: their crushed bones and flesh are well on the way to create more devils awaited in Valhalla. Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) is the Lucifer of this anti-paradise – one that makes the word ‘dystopia’ kneel on its wobbly knees before the horrifying menace of his reign. It is a futuristic no-country-for-any-men, except for those who control water. This precious liquid, called Aqua Cola by the Buzzard king, is thrown to the deformed sea of beings that slave away and starve at his feet. “Do not get addicted to water,” Immortan Joe warns them, as they hold their sandy bowls above their feeble heads, cowering in thirst.
Max (Tom Hardy), the half-life War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult) and Furiosa power through the heroin-addled madness of the Fury Road that is, surprisingly, a film that stands tall on other fronts of storytelling as well as it does on the maelstrom of anarchic visuals. The critic reviews have already told us that the production design, cinematography (John Seale, my heart belongs to you) and the incomprehensibly brilliant stunt work make Mad Max Fury Road probably the best action movie that has hit our theaters this decade. What they also need to tell you, is that Charlize Theron’s eyes and her blackened temple, thanks to the grease of her War Rig wheel, have the power to burn through the screen with the scorch of the sun. Nicholas Hoult and Tom Hardy are perfectly cast, but Furiosa is the driving force in the film, a war goddess in her own right. A character that truly deserves to be at the helm of Miller’s film, without being tied to the front of a fusion-car with a needle up one arm and a muzzle on the face. In my favorite scene from the film, Max misses his aim at an approaching vehicle twice, and is left with only one bullet. Furiosa slowly, quietly walks up to him, takes aim while placing the rifle on his shoulder with deadly precision. “Don’t breathe,” she tells him, and hits the target. At the end of the scene, there is so little that’s said, but so much is accomplished.
The script holds on to the pace without compromising on carving out character arcs on whatever is left in this meadow of death. It is two merciless hours of mayhem and savagery. Not the kind that wears us down with repetition, but the kind that’s injected with inventiveness and the dark matter of nightmares. All for fun, you see. No harm done. Except that you’ll probably never sleep again. And have troubled dreams where dying inside a metal cage fueled with nitro, burnt to a crisp by an angry whip of lightning is the least painful way you can imagine dying. Because in Mad Max’s desolate wasteland, hope is a mistake.
The film should be rated ‘Adults only’ for the alarming bulk of profanity thrown around by the audience who are pitifully at a loss of words. That happens as the result of a simple fact: we don’t know how to react because we’ve seen nothing of the sort before. I have half a mind to shave my head today and color the hair on my arms red, so that I may be considered worthy of being a part of the pixie dust of Miller’s awe-inspiring world.
This ride is one for the ages. When the biggest blight on cinema (called the Academy) rejects genre films next time, we’ll load up our thorny machines, grab our electric guitars that shed fire out of one end and music out the other, and paint their skies red for glory. Mad Max Fury Road is a victory over big-budget claptrap, because it is a big-budget epic adorned over a ruin of broken limbs and magic, blood and sandstorms; it tears the concept of ‘blockbuster’ a new one. This isn’t adrenaline we’re talking about here, it’s acid trips and culture cocaine with sprinkles of stardust.
Gas, sand, over-saturated tones of crazy, hallucinatory adventures of our heroes and heroines (hallelujah!) melt brains into jelly and use them to guzzle their horsepower. We have Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) getting off to the highest of highs, scoring the film with what I’d like to call a drums-n-drugs soundtrack that can move underneath and over, then slow and fast according to the throbbing vein of the film’s completely bonkers action sequences. Miller wholly redefines the term ‘chaos’ or even action cinema as a genre: this is his universe, a place where everything is bad going on to worse. I think Mad Max Fury Road is some kind of undulated, atmospheric masterpiece, but I need to see it four or five times again just to be sure.
Movie geek, out.