Friday, 12 February 2016

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

This movie hits you like one of the souped-up combat cars that roar throughout its run time.  It's an astonishingly kinetic piece of film, so much so that I literally felt exhausted after watching it for the first time in the cinema.

A second viewing, now on a small screen, necessarily loses some of that impact, but I enjoyed the film even more this time around.  Make no mistake: I'm very glad I had that breathless big screen experience where I felt almost swamped by what I was watching.  But this is a work which profits from a second (and probably third and fourth) viewing.  The first comparison that springs to mind is The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.  While that's a very different film in content and tone, it's another work where when you re-watch it, you notice new elements that you simply didn't have the time to appreciate the first time through.

In case you have somehow never heard of the original Mad Max films (the most successful of which was known in the US as The Road Warrior), the films posit a not-too-distant future where resource scarcity led to the collapse of society.  Some indistinct period of years after this collapse, a drifter - turned half bestial by the hard life he's lived - becomes the prisoner of a group of mad, irradiated warriors who need his blood to extend their shortened lives.  The leader of these "War Boys" is a barely-human figure named Immortan Joe.

The drifter - who is Max, of course - gets a chance at freedom when one of Immortan Joe's senior officers turns rogue.  Her motivation: the desire to get Joe's "breeders"; a group of young women whose role is unfortunately obvious; out of the warlord's clutches.  "We are not things", the women daub on their prison wall before they flee.

Immortan Joe, of course, is exactly the kind of thuggish brute who will go to any length to reclaim the women he sees as his "property", creating the running battle and vehicular mayhem that will drive the film forward hereafter and that propels Max on his own personal journey.

This is a really smartly-made film, offering up not just great action sequences but also a satisfying story that works on a couple of different levels.  I dearly wish it had done better at the cinema - it deserved to be a monster hit.

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