By: Mike Agostinelli
So….mostly everyone liked this movie. Critics anyway. So whats it like being one of the few who would dare to go against the grain? Who would brazenly attempt to share their honest, less-than-positive thoughts about the almighty new Mad Max movie? What would become of such an asshole? Lets find out.
Mad Max: Fury Road is a rebootquel. Like that word? I think it applies here. It’s a reboot of the Mad Max franchise, yet it’s also directed by the guy who made the other three and can easily be seen as a Part 4 to that original series. Whats the plot? Well, its slight at best. Max has been captured by a roving band of lunatics who belong to a larger group of lunatics who rule over a bombed out, sand-covered future Earth. These people capture people for blood transfusions, kidnap and impregnate women in order to further the human race, chill with midget dudes, spray liquid metallic spray-stuff on their teeth, and harvest sumo-wrestler-level fat womens breast milk. They are ruled by Immortan Joe, a pale white guy with a skin disease who somehow conned his way into power. After one of his “war rig” drivers with the ridiculous name of Imperiator Furiousa, played by Charlize Theron, betrays him and steals away his “wives”, the chase begins. And it barely stops for two straight hours.
The action scenes in this movie are incredible. That much cannot be denied. You have never seen what goes down in this movie anywhere else. The final action scene alone is a show-stopper of the highest caliber. The way the action is structured, and how over the top it is, reminded me of one of those elaborate stunt shows at a theme park when I was a kid. What goes down here could be re-purposed into an arena type stunt show at Universal Studios with no issue at all. Theres dudes hopping between constantly-moving cars with large stilts, a rig specifically made to follow the action while playing music (complete with a guitarist and multiple drummers), people strung up on the hoods while being drained of their blood (which is slowly pumped into the driver via a tube), and lots of other fanciful ludicrousness. Can action scenes make a movie though?
I believe more is needed than just some really cool action scenes. That’s not being high-minded. Thats just simply expecting something that resembles, you know…..a movie. It doesn’t help that our main character is a total bore. Tom Hardy is a great actor, but in this it seems like he was so miserable on set that he simply showed up and pouted his way through shooting. I realize he’s portraying a broken human being, but even a broken leading man needs to exude some type of likability or charisma. Mad Max is essentially a giant humorless asshole, until he suddenly and randomly decides to be a little less of an asshole, and then the movie ends. Charlize Theron pops in this though, outshining Hardy in every possible way. But this is a Mad Max movie, not an Impreiator Furiousa movie. Would it have killed Hardy to crack a stone-faced joke or two? One of the best moments is when he fleetingly shows some little shred of humor, as he throws a half-assed thumbs up to one of the runaway women after she does something cool.
The movies tone is unrelentingly bleak. Depression reigns supreme. Everyone freaking hates their lives to an almost comedic degree. Charlize literally falls to her knees at one point and screams at the sky. “Damn you! Damn you to Hell for making my life so awful!’ Do you also enjoy seeing a pregnant dead woman having her dead baby cut from her stomach and thrown on the ground like trash? If so, you’re in luck cuz this’ll be your movie of the year. Like seeing old ladies getting their throats slit? Naked fat women? People with growths and tumors all over their bodies? Faces getting ripped from heads? BEST MOVIE EVER MAN.
I used to enjoy this kind of on-screen mayhem, but as I’ve gotten older, I like movies that make me happy. That transport me for two hours and that I can walk out of with a smile on my face or at least an overall general positive attitude. I walked out of this feeling like I just went through an ordeal. Was I depressed and disturbed by it? No. But I’m annoyed at the effort that was put into wanting to MAKE ME be depressed and disturbed by it. Like what the hell dude? There’s a version of this movie that could have retained its R-rating, but went about things in a tad bit more fun way. Violence is all about tone. If you are gratuitously violent with your content and maintain a bleak tone, then youre heading towards a depression-fest. If you can be really violent, but establish a semi-serious wink-wink tone then you can have a fun movie. The former is what we get here. From what I hear the other Mad Max films were nothing like this. I’ve seen bits and pieces of each of them, and the third one (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) is a corny and fun 80’s shithole. Why not take at least a SHRED of that fun and recreate it here with modern technology? But no. Its all gotta be “gritty” and “realistic.” Stick it up your ass.
I give MAD MAX: FURY ROAD a 6 out of 10.
Note: The six is because of the action scenes, just FYI. Everything else? No.