DVD Review: Mad Max: Fury Road



George Miller’s fourth entry in the “Mad Max” saga comes 30 years after his last.

His original three films, “Mad Max,” “The Road Warrior” and “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” chart the devolution of Australia into a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by menacing marauders who dress like punk rockers, kill for fun and horde what water and gasoline remain.

Through that landscape walked a young Mel Gibson, playing widowed police officer Mad Max. His heroic deeds and stoic comportment recalled the classic Western hero.

In this latest entry (now in theaters), British actor Tom Hardy plays the titular character. It’s a tour de force (and in a few moments, farce), made very interesting by the fact that it’s not Max who runs the show.

The plot follows a rogue tanker driver named Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). At the outset, she appears to work for the ghoulish overlord Immortan Joe, who rules from a fortress in the desert. Atop his tall stone compound are wind turbines and greenery — the only signs of lushness that remain in a dry, desolate world.

The masses, meanwhile, beg Immortan Joe for water.

Furiosa revs her engines and takes off into the desert on what initially appears to be a gas run. But she soon breaks from her set itinerary and we learn that she’s on a rescue mission: she’s breaking out of captivity Immortan’s several wives.

Immortan’s brainwashed army of “war boys” chases after her in a caravan of buggies, tanks and dirt bikes. Along with the boy soldiers are Immortan and his fellow fatcats.

Mad Max, who is captured in the first scene in the movie, has been assigned the role of “blood bag.” He’s connected to a war boy by a long, intravenous tube, and his blood transfusions supposedly supercharges the berserking grunt.

If the premise sounds ridiculous, rest assure that it is. But the movie’s vision of the world is crystal clear.

The bad guys include the “People Eater,” an overweight man with swollen ankles and an old-world-style banker’s suit. There’s the “Doof Warrior,” a faceless man suspended on bungee cords and shredding a guitar that doubletasks as a flame thrower. There’s “Bullet Farmer,” who spouts comically libertarian diatribes while commanding his tank onward.

They’re caricatures of the bankers, bigots and jesters who are — according to this film’s progressive and feminist vision of the world — the root of all evils, whether social or environmental.

It’s the women who save the day. After Max escapes his bloodbag duties, he teams up with Furiosa. They continue across the desert, fighting Immortan’s army and other hazards along the way, en route to her supposed oasis of a homeland.

The action is breathtaking. It’s basically a series of ornate chase scenes, but each rivals the earlier ones in intricacy, coherence and outlandishness.

But it’s that fresh dynamic of Furiosa — who has one prosthetic arm — and other equally badass women acting heroically that distinguishes this from many of the action-packed blockbusters that’ll come out this summer.

In one scene halfway through the movie, Max levels a rifle at an advancing enemy. He shoots, and misses. He shoots again, and misses. There are three bullets, Furiosa tells him.

She then grabs the rifle, rests it on a cooperative Max’s shoulder for balance and succeeds where he could not.

 

Charles Eichacker

Charles Eichacker

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Charles Eichacker covers the towns of Bucksport, Orland, Castine, Verona Island, Penobscot, Brooksville and Dedham. When not working on stories, he likes books, beer and the outdoors. [email protected]

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