Mad Max: Fury Road

Late into the game, but I guess better than never; a shroud of admiration have surrounded the film since its general release, almost as if the world have given it a standing ovation for its seemingly substantial contributions. I entered the theatre with low expectations, which was anchored by the fact that I have yet to see any of George Miller’s previous cult trilogy. It was my understanding that it promises to entertain through its energetic and bombastic set pieces, and offer up thoughtful commentary in its depiction of the world and its dynamics.

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Indeed, the latter was promised and because of it, I was more than pleased with the results, but its depiction of clashing chaos lacks the essence of character and urgency that would have me lost in the tension and friction. The first 20 or so minutes of the film was hectic in its composition as deceit and purpose seem to have established by the tough and dedicated Furiosa; ensuring the safety of migrating the multiple wives of the Citadel’s warlord, Immortan Joe, to the Green Place, promising solace of the restrictive and hungry wasteland that has long consumed their lives. In the warlord’s discovery, thus the film’s beginnings of a sense of mayhem; which initially comes off as unengaging but becomes more fascinating and gripping as it reaches closer to the film’s resolution.

The film’s initial set piece lacked a sense of impact due to its inability to establish its characters and world effectively, providing just a sliver before thrusting its audience straight into the action, a choice that is far too soon since more time and character development is needed to establish one’s full orientation to Miller’s constructed atmosphere. It wasn’t until halfway into the film that I realised that Max is far from the film’s core protagonist, as the film was too concerned about jump starting on the adrenaline early on in order to place the audience in the necessary mindset for satisfaction.

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Eventually one is able to pick up the pieces of the world’s puzzling outlook through the rare spoken word of profoundness or character, and thankfully it provides enough to ensure a sense of satisfaction by the time it has reached its well-suited conclusion. As we learn of the agendas, fractures, and virtues of its characters, the more its physical mayhem begin to carry a substantial weight; by the time it has dived deep into its second half with a climax that is quite thrilling to sit through, finally carries that needed weight in depicting the sense of danger and urgency within its characters.

To proclaim that film as mindless would be a false statement since the film does a remarkable job, when gathered enough insight, of creating a plausible world that displays a famine in society’s needed essentials; where the abundant harness of gasoline, water, and ammunition would define the city you rule, and anyone that lives within this wasteland are able to, with enough dedication, to steal it away from an individual, hence attaining a sense of power that would allow you to act in a godly manner towards your desperate disciples. Immortan Joe speaks of redemption of another’s soul like as if he is above those among him, radiating a powerful influence that have converted their minds and blinded their consumption that loyalty is rarely broken. It is here that Miller creates certain parallels to the clouded minds of the terrorists, where their sense of faith is manipulated to fit the desires of a man’s ego and larger agenda.

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There is subtlety to be found in displaying the faults of humanity, especially those from the minds of the egotistical and greedy males, the ones deserving of blame for the wasteland they have created for themselves; losing themselves in the necessary macho to reach a sense of fulfilment, maintaining only a sense of womanhood through their imprisonment, while some have turned themselves almost completely of the male dominated world, wanting to build a life more nurturing than competitive. Miller could have easily allowed this to bleed indulgently in the dialogue, especially given the abundance of female characters in its overall journey, but he instead allows it all to be palpable in the imagery he provides us and the grit and dedication in the action undertaken by its female characters, at times allowing them to rise above their male counterparts in physicality and intelligence.

Though Tom Hardy fills the role of the iconic titular character, a lack of focus prevents his performance to be worthy of note, one that is constantly overshadowed by the desperation and skill of Charlize Theron’s Furiosa and the manic energy, with a hint of intimately displayed melancholia, of Nicholas Hoult’s Nux; a War Boy who understands a vehicle’s construction and capability than any other that are with him in their journey. When viewing these characters in their isolated scenes, they are able capable of maintaining my interest, but sadly when forced to interact with one another, they lack a needed chemistry or an intellectual or emotional challenge between them that would allow its smaller moments to remain charged with engaging energy.

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The film pulsates with energy that most certainly captivated the world, but my admiration for it was patient, needing far more than the smack bang it delivers, instilling its latter segments with critical characterisation and insight of its cleverly developed world that justifies the action that the initial moments simply failed to provide; it helps even further that Miller seems to have allowed scenes to rely on the physical presence of sand and its production within it, to further immerse the viewers during moments of heightened spectacle.

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