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Movie Review: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

May 142015
 
 By , May 14, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

“Mad Max: Fury Road” – a film review by Gary Chew

What you get are various and vicious warring tribes of hundreds of humans equipped with diabolically high powered vehicles and military hardware. All the killing happens in a desert wasteland that seems to be a place almost no one would want to exist. No, this isn’t a news report from the contemporary Middle East.

Mad Max: Fury Road is in a dystopian future, forty-five years hence. It’s the fourth film in that heavy metal series of the Australian director, George Miller. He invented Max … and possibly Mel Gibson.

Mad Max: Fury RoadWith sufficient disbelief uploaded a safe distance from your essence, the ride on which Miller takes you — I swear — never slows down, and only occasionally gives brief pause. I felt I ought to be out of breath as the house lights went up in the theater despite the fact I’d been sitting quietly in one dark, comfortable spot for two hours. In all this creative fury, Miller never shifts his picture out of 5th.

Max – who began as sort of a Outback highway cop when Gibson did him — is played by Tom Hardy. He’s only the second Max to come along. Hardy does Max as if he’s been suffering from PTSD since the last chapter. That seems to ring more authentically for the British born actor who has “going places” written all over him. Here’s some of Hardy’s resumé: Child 44; The Drop; Locke; Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy and the popular Inception.

Oscar winner Charlize Theron – in a fetching buzz cut a la George Zimmerman — is cast in Mad Max as a woman with the right name for that which she’s tasked herself: Furiosa. She’s crossing Out Backish-looking terrain in a very big rig that secreted on it are younger females who had been kidnapped earlier by a really, really bad guy called King Immortan Joe. Of course, Joe and his barbaric tribe, the War Boys, are in more than just heated pursuit. Joe is “sort of put out” that the girls – called the Five Wives – are no longer under his control. Their fertility is the only path left for Joe to re-generate the human race; any newborns will be reprogrammed to act and think in an “appropriate” fascist-like manner the blood thirsty leader expects for all. Yes, no Mr. Nice Guy. And wait till you see his mask. Darth Vader, you best slink to the back of this bus.

Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom HardyAfter a shaky start between them, Furiosa realizes that Max and his knowledge of the desert are the tickets to get her charges to safety and sanity. Nearly every character in the movie is literally out of his or her freaking mind. One of the “best” is a crazy dude (dressed all in red) who rides the front bumper of a speeding War Boys vehicle while banging away on a gigantic red guitar. The twangy instrument intermittently spouts flames from its neck. Now, that’s not only really operatic Heavy Metal, but an added kick for all rock guitarists who show up to see this on-fire, high-octane film.

Miller has the editing, lighting and CGI reigning supreme throughout. The big screen is kept busy.

Violence seldom dazzles me, but that’s what I was … dazzled, just feeling the force and persistent energy of Mad Max: Fury Road. Surely, fans of the vintage Crosby/Hope road movies should steer clear since there’s only one aspect of the movie that actually might conjure up a laugh: several of the junky-looking autos used in the wall-to-wall chase scenes are creative re-dos from old, familiar models. I saw an old Buick, an even older Chevy and of the higher priced makes, I’m sure I saw a Cadillac, a Mercedes-Benz and really creepy looking Rolls-Royce. Sorry though, no BMW; nor were there any creative contortions foisted on the motor bikes that scurry about with riders looking for even more trouble.

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Gary Chew was a classical music host, programmer and producer on Capital Public Radio’s KXPR 88.9FM, Sacramento for 18 years. He retired in January 2007. Read more about Gary's long and storied career here.
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