BR: Mad Max – Fury Road (2015)

January 7, 2016 | By


MadMax_FuryRoadFilm: Very Good

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: n/a

Label:  Warner Home Entertainment

Region: All

Released:  September1, 2015

Genre:  Science-Fiction / Action

Synopsis: Mad Max returns for another post-apocalyptic adventure, first escaping from the clutches of evil warlord Immortan Joe, then aiding the savvy Furiosa in battling a mass of blood-thirsty warriors.

Special Features:  5 Making-of featurettes: “Maximum Fury: Filming Fury Road” (29 mins.) + “Fury on Four Wheels” (23 mins.) + “The Road Warriors: Max and Furiosa” (11 mins.) + “The Tools of the Wasteland” (14 mins.) + “The Five Wives: So Shiny, So Chrome” (11 mins.) + “Crash & Smash” (4 mins.) / 3 Deleted Scenes (4 mins.)





After a 4 year absence, George Miller returned to the directing chair with a long-delayed sequel to the franchise that started his career, and in spite of many production problems and a complex shoot, delivered a rock-solid action film with a wealth of practical stunts and effects, but after a kinetic first hour, it becomes clear this fourth film in the saga of Max Rockatansky, ex-cop / post-apocalypse wanderer who cares for no one and nothing, a finely detailed story is the last thing that was on anyone’s mind once the cameras started to roll.

What we know is Max (stoic / wooden Tom Hardy) has been snatched by a ruthless warlord and is used as a blood sack to nourish war boys, the sickly yet agile troops used by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) to conquer and keep citizens in line. We also know Max is lashed to the front of a vehicle to keep the driver nourished as a small army is sent out to retrieve a tanker of valuable water intended as barter for gasoline.

The tanker, driven by the once-respected Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), also carries a secret cargo of Immortan Joe’s concubines, whom Furiosa intends to transport to freedom when she reaches her homeland, far away from the clutches of any warlords. Positions of power are in constant flux, as Max also moves from blood sack to warrior, controlling his former driver Slit, and hoarding ant weapons from Furiosa’s group so their journey to freedom doesn’t come with any lethal surprises.

Miller seems to assume we all know something about Mad Max, or at the very least comprehend that in a post-apocalyptic world, it’s every man and woman for him and herself, but that stance also means there’s zero character development, and the film is exclusively one big chase sequence. When everyone realizes they’re about to be swarmed by the troops from several warlords, they head back to their starting point under the logic that Immortan Joe’s little metropolis is now fully unguarded, and an easy city to claim as their own. They only need to make the return trip safely.

That literal turnaround signals the point where the film loses its logic, and it’s a retread of still stellar but now familiar action montages that push the film to its concluding second hour. While a wholly new film, Fury Road is really just a reworking of the franchise’s second film, The Road Warrior (1981), minus the western-like siege in which a group fend off gangs wanting their stash of fuel. The scale is grander, the sound design is stupendously aggressive, and the colours far more vibrant – but Part 4 offers nothing new to Rockatansky’s mythology.

Even stranger is the decision to have leads Max and Furiosa speak in soft monotone, making much of the dialogue rather subliminal. What few words are expressed evoke a quasi-poetic Medieval language which often fails to add any depth to any character. The most engaging character isn’t Furiosa nor Max, but Slit (Josh Helman), a thuggish warrior who undergoes a moral transformation, and eventually offers his life to save the group.

Miller’s choreographed mayhem is amazing – the action scenes run on steroids – and enough practical stunts manage to shine amid the digital blanketing of flames and peripheral details (which likely helped goose the film in its re-rendered 3D incarnation), but the entire film is cut in the same breakneck action speed, making even short dialogue scenes between Max and the concubines barely affecting, if not perceptible. There are deliberate zones within the narrative where Max & Co. have stopped and  the edits-per-second are ratcheted down, but there’s little content to these scenes which are pretty much buffer points between action sequences.

The industrial-orchestral score by Junkie XL / Tom Holkenborg works great for the film, but it’s often reduced to looped segments, if not a bass pulse, as so much of the action scenes take over the soundscape. Perhaps Miller’s most inventive use of sound is a giant truck outfitted with speakers and a band which, like Roman drummers in mid-conquest, keep the troops moving in one unified pace (or moving on a crackhead, heavy metal high).

Visually and sonically, Max Max Fury Road is a wonder and no doubt exhilarated audiences on the big screen, and on Blu-ray the uncompressed 5.1 audio is deliciously intense, but if Miller’s attempting to kick-start a new franchise, he’s got to add a bit more meat to the characters, and a plotline that doesn’t turn 180 degrees and replay material with audio-visual gusto as camouflage for the script’s glaring weaknesses.



© 2015 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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