Review – Mad Max: Fury Road – “I Live, I Die, I Live Again”

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To say that people going into this movie had a lot of expectations is both an understatement and a lie. While George Miller, the mastermind behind the original 3 Mad Max films, was at the helm again, in his own words the film was neither a reboot nor a sequel. Fans of the original films went to the movie with some expectations of call-backs to the original films, while those too young to remember the originals came in expecting nothing. What George Miller managed to do with Fury Road was give both the uninitiated and the long time fans something to be excited about.

Before we get too far, remember: SPOILERS BELOW.

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The film opens with Max caught and taken to the Citadel, a town run by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Fans of the original Mad Max might remember Hugh Keays-Byrne as the original bad guy from that film. However, in Fury Road, he plays a completely different bad guy. The post-apocalyptic world is short on resources and living in a toxic world 45 years after the downfall of civilization. In order to remain in control Immortan had droves of War Pups and War Boys, young boys who, due to the toxic world they live in, have a short half-life. Once they hit the half way point of their half-life they move to drivers who go to war on the Fury Road for Immortan and typically die very young. They all believe that they will die and live again or be taken to the gates of Valhalla by Immortan, “Shiny and Chrome”.

If you have seen Mad Max 3 (Beyond Thunderdome) the War Pups and Boys remind you a bit of the waiting ones that Max found outside of Bartertown. However, Fury Road 11110503_674551252650399_5208666729282914250_oappears to be perhaps before the events that took place in Thunderdome, though George Miller says the order of the films are very loose. The focus of this film was on Furiosa who was sent to collect fuel for the Citadel, like she has done many times before. However, it turns out that she was sneaking away with precious cargo, “breeders”. And thus the chase begins and the rest of the film centers around the chase and Furiosa trying to escape to the place that was green.

If you are someone who has never seen a Mad Max film, there was a lot of things in this film that seemed silly or way over the top but the non-stop action and crazy antics make it a perfect summer post-apocalyptic blockbuster that doesn’t require you to think too deeply about the story but you can still enjoy the characters.  Don’t get me wrong, the plot isn’t that shallow that there isn’t any story to enjoy. Unlike many post-apocalyptic films of recent times, Fury Road isn’t trying to shove a political statement down your throat. The fall of humanity is very simple and straight forward.

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Nicholas Hoult as Nux

If you were a fan of the Mad Max series, then you (like me) enjoyed the endless call backs to the other Mad Max films. From Max’s car, to the music playing man in a red jump suit, or the Lost-Boy group of War Boys, including the entertaining Nux. Nux is a War Boy who is at the end of his half-life and he is taking in blood from his “blood bag”, Max, when the war drums ring out that Furiosa had betrayed them. Although he is on death’s door he decides to ride out after her with the others, and with Max strapped to the front of his car.

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Scrooloose from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Nux is played by Nicholas Hoult and is by far the highlight of the film character wise. Hoult was quoted as having to channel a ‘puppy,’ referring to the fact that he was a committed, enthusiastic slave ready to die for Immortan and join the warriors before him in Valhalla but also very clumsy. Nux feels like a throwback to Scrooloose, who was a member of The Lost Tribe in Beyond Thunderdome, however there is no direct connection between the characters. The girls take a liking to Nux, while trying to get him to see that his desire to die for Immortan is wasted and that there is a better life out there. In the end he gave up everything to save them, or did he? Though it seems clear that Nux dies in the end, we don’t actually see his death and that could present a starting point for a sequel and a way for the War Pups/Boys to leave the Citadel and start their own city.

Many have commented that Hardy had a lack of passion to the character as Max and lacked the same personal story that Gibson had as Max. While I do agree that Max in this film wasn’t all that impressive, I think the lack of passion or personal story to the character is more the result of no back story film. The original Mad Max film gave viewers of The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome a context for his personality and his visions. Fury Road throws the visions at you, but doesn’t give you a lot of context. If they do make another film, they should go more with the Thunderdome plot as that is when we see Max gain back some of his own self-respect and passion towards humanity.

Unlike other recent post-apocalyptic films with female leads, Fury Road doesn’t give you the whiny, pouty, self-pity female lead. Instead you get the strong, bad ass, take no prisoners female lead with Furiosa (Theron) and the wives who are sick of being property. Throughout the film, which started out almost exclusively men chasing after the women, towards the end we get an entire group of women to take on Immortan, and Nux seems to have come to accept that and help them along with Max. I think the redhead likes Nux.

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From a cinematic standpoint, it is clear that George Miller was given the authority to do everything and anything he wanted with this film. The shots were beautifully done and the way scenes were speed up or slowed down allowed the viewer to catch every little detail without lingering on the screen too long was genius. Some of the CGI left you snapping out of the mind-set that you could be in some place real with the over the top sand storm that was too far-fetched to accept. However, Overall the rest of the sequences were nothing short pure adrenaline fun.

Did you get a chance to see Mad Max: Fury Road? What did you think of it and what call backs did you enjoy to the original films? Since Nux was our favorite character, here is a little Featurette on Nux.

Robert Prentice