Film Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

by Sam Robinson

Rated MA15+. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult. Directed by George Miller.

After a 30 year hiatus, the dusty post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max has been revived by Australian director George Miller. Mad Max: Fury Road is the fourth film in the series, and loads the right concoction of intensity, stunts and cinematic marvel to become one of the best action films in years. It may have been thirty years since the last Mad Max adventure, but it has been worth the wait.

This time Max (Hardy) meets a woman named Furiosa (Theron) who is driving a massive rig through an enormous barren desert. Furiosa is hiding five young women on the rig who are on the run from the fearsome (and grotesque) fascist leader King Immortan Joe. Joe wants the women to breed a new generation of the human race, all his offspring. Max reluctantly helps Furiosa find her way across the desert, but they are constantly pursued by Joe and his albino cronies, the War Boys.

Fury Road moves along at breakneck speed, it’s nothing short of adrenaline-inducing edge-of-your-seat viewing. The majority of the film is a car chase, down a desert highway, and it’s not until two-thirds of the way through that the rapid action relents. The costumes and cars are expertly designed, and the big budget is spent well to give the cast a menacing look. Flames explode, your eardrums are assaulted, motors growl, and fierce dust storms impose on the senses. Fury Road is mental.

Director George Miller is a true visionary – he employs some excellent film techniques to raise Fury Road to a new level of insanity. Many scenes appear to be sped slightly with a jitter that gives a schizophrenic look. The soundtrack is big and loud, matching the epic shots. And in the dryness of the desert – which just makes you thirsty looking at it – any sign of water or a colour that isn’t orange is like a breath of fresh air. Miller engages you from the beginning and rarely provides a dull moment. The stunts are in a league of their own too – how they performed them safely I’ll never know.

Mad Max is most definitely targeted at men, but what I loved about Fury Road is that it features strong women. Furiosa steals the show from Max (and his ambiguous accent). It really is her movie. And the women she protects are bold and brave time and time again. This was a welcome surprise for me – to see empowered women on screen who often have the upper hand against feral men who utilise brute force.

A big theme in Fury Road is that of new life. In a desolate desert, water is scarce, and the search for “green” becomes the goal. One of the five women on the rig is pregnant, too. There’s a scene where an old lady pulls an animal skull out with a tiny plant shooting out of it. It’s a stark contrast of the dryness of Max’s dystopian world, and yet the hope of new life within it.

This reminded me of the powerful imagery in Ezekiel, when the priest sees a vision of the valley of dry bones. The Lord speaks, and brings life to the dryness, before declaring what new life looks like. Ezekiel 37:14 –

I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’””

This prophecy to a dry Israel promises new life to come, and we have it now by trusting in Jesus. When we do, Jesus gives us his Spirit – an assurance that we are no longer spiritually dead. Like a skull with a plant inside, we have new life within us, by God’s grace. It’s a refreshing reality that is ours now.

Mad Max: Fury Road is nothing short of a masterpiece. Be warned there’s violence and horror involved here – a staple of Max’s world – but not to the extent of previous episodes. You need to see this film. I’m giving this five out of five stars.

Mad Max: Fury Road is in cinemas now.

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