Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Review

Posted by in Film Review

The top rated film of 20151, Mad Max: Fury Road featured in many of December’s “Top 10” lists, has been heavily praised across the Internet and racked up the 2016 Oscar nominations. I just can’t understand why.

Director: George Miller
Cinematographer: John Seale
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicolas Hoult

Technical Filmmaking

Mad Max Fury Road - Sean Hape

Sean Hape in Mad Max: Fury Road

Before explaining my problems with Mad Max, I do have to agree that the technical aspects of the film are fantastic. Having the majority of the effects achieved practically show that the crew are a rather talented bunch of individuals bent on bringing some cataclysmically crazy ideas into reality. A great example is the guitarist in the picture above, with a real working instrument that did actually act as a flamethrower too, handled by actor/musician Sean Hape who was actually strapped into the moving vehicle. Definitely not the move of a typical Hollywood blockbuster. However, these incredible effects would mean very little if they were not shot well. To work on this important part of the process, George Miller pulled John Seale out of retirement. Together they used some intelligent filming techniques and ideas to make everything on screen even more eye-pleasing. I don’t agree with all of their ideas though, such as the altering of the film’s frame rate, which honestly helped in reducing my suspension of disbelief enormously and made several scenes simply down-right annoying to watch.

Worldbuilding

Mad Max Fury Road - Worldbuilding and Set Design

The Citadel in Mad Max: Fury Road

Perhaps what is most impressive in Mad Max however is the in-depth world building that is achieved through both character and set designs. Each element feels fleshed out with depth and meaning that has obviously been worked upon in order to create believable locations and people which heavily help to suggest the stories that occurred prior to the film’s place in time. Not only does this allow for a more believable world, but also creates less reliance on expositional dialogue which is always a Good Thing™.

Writing

Mad Max Fury Road - Tom Hardy - Writing

Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road

As I mentioned previously I did come away confused as to the incredible scores that Fury Road managed to achieve, which is mostly related to the story, dialogue and the way in which these aspects were written. The whole film is one long chase scene with predictable results and no real emotional connection. One may argue that this wasn’t the point. That the fact that a mainstream production such as this should be satisfying to watch because of what is presented visually. And yes, the technical aspects are surprising for such as a film, but if it does not work in conjunction with an interesting story that makes the viewer invested with the hero’s plight then do the visuals not become rather meaningless? I have seem arguments online that seem to suggest that while the overall plot may not be impactful, the individual character arcs are allowed to become more of a focus. I do agree with this, but only to a very limited extent. In reality these arcs are very basic and seemingly flow through with the rest of the film as opposed to containing any real moments of conflicting ideas that would make the viewer think for themselves. I found myself with nothing to discuss in this regard once the credits had rolled as all of the events were clearly laid out and contained no real depth. Tom Hardy‘s Max is the prime example of this lack of depth. After having no meaningful force for change exerted upon him, he goes from the almost silent, dumb, self-obsessed man to suddenly feeling the urge to help the women he met free their home from a tyrannical ruler, even going as far as to talk them through their plan of attack. Such a complete change in character with no reason why just left me baffled, the strongest emotion I ever felt during the entire runtime.

Concluding Mad Max

At the end of the day, Fury Road has been incredibly over-hyped. The technical aspects are indeed fantastic, yes, but a movie with this much praise I would have thought would have had much more depth. I thought I would have a lot to discuss. But no, not even with the little story arcs and symbolisms that have been discussed in its defence. It isn’t a typical action blockbuster for sure, but it would probably be more interesting to see a ‘how it was made’ feature than to actually watch the film itself.

1: According to Rotten Tomatoes (Dec 2015): http://www.rottentomatoes.com/top/bestofrt/?year=2015