Mad Max Fury Road: Beware of Battle Fatigue

It’s clear that the famous phrase of making is clearly “everything louder than everything else” of Deep Purple makes a great inspiration for George Miller as he reboots his low-budget road-warrior hit in 1979 with more money, more trucks, and much more noise. Mad Max Fury Road is the great combination of action movie and death metal concert.

Watching Mad Max Fury Road  is cinematic equivalent of putting your head in the bass-bin of metal rock. We get sonic assault vehicles armed with drummers, speaker stacks and a mutant axe-man wielding an Ace Frehley-style guitar-slash flamethrower. This is not a movie of light and shade; it is an orgy of loud and louder leaving us alternately exhilarated, exasperated and exhausted.

In this reboot, Tom Hardy plays as Max Rockatansk, who being chased and imprisoned by War Boys of Immortal Joe. He ends up teaming up with War Rig Trucker Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to escape from Joe’s places, and they strike out in a searching of “Green Place” – a mystical land of mothers, a lush riposte to Waterworld’s elusive “DryLand”. They don’t hit the road only by themselves. They bring along a cargo of highly combustible cocktail of petrol and Joe’s enslaved wives making a bid for freedom from his breeding farm. On their trip, they encounter an array of variously hairy stilt-walking, motorbiking, chainsawing crazies suggesting that a militarized wing of the French circus troupe Archaos has escaped into the desert and gone feral.

While the first Mad Max was a stripped-down Roger Corman revenge movie, this head-banging-$150m fourth installment inclines more toward the big-explosion-with-lots-of-fire territory of Michael Bay. Miller has his crunchy belief of balletic visual that actions really do speak louder than words. Envisaged at one point as an Akira-style anime, this graphic-novel-inflected chase movie eschews dialogue in favor of explosive demonstration, the versatile “Edge Arm” camera system providing a visual sword that cuts a defining swath through the narrative.

One of the most feature that makes the success of Mad Max Fury Road the movie is the filming location. The movie is filmed at Namib Desert providing the end-of-world backdrop. In a meanwhile, layer-cake vehicle designs turn everything into a mobile pile-up from the outset, with cheeky nods to Peter Weir’s influential.

There is no doubt to say that Tom Hardy is a right choice for playing Max. He is perfectly fit to play a fleshy cog in an oily machine, and his intense physicality perfectly in keeping with Miller’s meat-grinder milieu. Hardy brings something new for the character Max, while Mel Gibson always had a touch of craziness in his eyes, Hardy has his bulky body do the talking, his muscular movements recalling the taut choreography of his title role in Bronson.

By contrast, Theron’s one-armed bandit seems to be channeling the spirit of Gibson’s deranged Apocalypto with her mechanical hand adding just a touch of The Terminator. Meanwhile, Nicholas Hoult is all but unrecognizable as Nux, the tumor-ridden foot soldier who wants to chrome-plate his teeth and suicide-bomb his way into Valhalla, a misguided martyr in a very contemporary unholy war.

If all this sounds like a reason to floor it to the nearest multiplex, then there are obstacles in the road ahead. Putting the pedal to the metal for 90 minutes is one thing, but in 2 hours, it’s more of a slog, battle-fatigue teetering on the edge of burn-out and even boredom.

Throughout Mad Max Fury Road the movie, there is a problem that for all its avowed feminist credentials, Miller’s movie can’t quite reconcile its horrors-of-patriarchy narrative with its exotic fashion-shoot depiction of “The Wives”. This problem leaves the movie’s gender politics weirdly conflicted. However, if you can work round such snarl-ups there’s plenty of mileage in this monster which was press-screened in 2D, with zero need for stereoscopic “enhancement”.

Mad Max Fury Road: Beware of Battle Fatigue
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