Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz
Directed by George Miller
IMDB Rating: 8.8 (as of 18th May, 4 days after release)
30 Years on from the original trilogy, and the first of many much-anticipated reboots this year, Mad Max is a film that certainly lives up to its title.
Set in a futuristic, apocalyptic desert world, the film starts with Max Rockatansky (Hardy) being captured by half-life beings who wish to use him as a blood bag for them to function. These half-life things all work for Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who has a stranglehold on their world’s water supply and as such controls the people. Imperator Furiosa (Theron) is one of his strongest and most reliable soldiers, but when sent on a seemingly simple mission to Bullet Town she detours, making a beeline for the homeland she was stolen from as a child and taking Immortan Joe’s breeders with her. He hears of Furiosa’s plan and sends his whole army on a chase for her, including half-life Nux (Hoult), who takes Max along as his blood bag. Max ends up getting away with Furiosa, dragging Nux along with them as they all head away with Furiosa.
I should start of by saying that I haven’t seen the original Mel Gibson films from the early 80’s, and had very little idea of the story going into it. However, there is a fairly good story here. That being said, I’m still not sure what to think of the story after seeing it! The idea of Furiosa going rogue is all well and good, but in the end it’s hidden behind so much dirt and grit and just plain wackiness that it’s almost an afterthought. I heard someone call it a 2 hour car chase, and that’s basically the story right there. Very simple, not very blockbuster-y. That being said, there’s no denying that the car chases/battles are entertaining and explosions are always cool (although I don’t understand how it takes so many explosions to destroy what is essentially hunks of rusted metal), but too much of the same thing and the attraction can wear thin.
Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are two very strong leads in this film. Both completely sell their characters, both of them severely worn down by the world. Nicholas Hoult is solid as the loyal servant to the evil overlord who is converted by the breeders to their cause – a very convincing crazy person, less convincing when he becomes normal but that might be down to the character as much as himself. The acting by the breeders is mediocre at best, perhaps with the exception of Zoe Kravitz. All undeniably but inexplicably beautiful, completely out of keeping with the rest of the film – I mean, shouldn’t they be even slightly downtrodden? – their performances all feel very theatrical, but in the same way a stage play down the local theatre is, not the same way Hollywood movies are.
The directing by George Miller is quite original. Having directed the first Mad Max films it comes as no surprise that he gives this film a distinct retro feel. The shots, particularly during the action/chases is almost staggered, as if there’s a lower frame-rate or something in this film that most modern blockbusters. I’m not one of those people who knows how everything’s done, so I might be wrong, but people who have seen it will understand. The directing outside of the action is alright, but is mainly just scenic shots, and besides that’s only about 5 minutes worth.
The distressing thing for me is that when I was thinking of other films I’ve seen like this (and there isn’t many, to its credit), the first and most applicable movie for me was those Spy Kids films from the early noughties. This is probably a really good film, so long as you can buy into the wackiness of it all. There is a solid story here, but it is shrouded behind so many layers of ridiculousness, and I just couldn’t buy into enough of it. For me this is an okay film, which has to go down as a disappointment because it looked like it could be incredible. I honestly have no clue where this 8.8 on IMDB has come from, that’s just ridiculous.