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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mad Max Fury Road: Violent, Hyper-kinetic, Overrated

Source: Wikipedia 
"Mad Max Fury Road" is one long hyperkinetic, violent, chase scene. It has received over-the-top reviews; that's why I went to see it. The reviews insisted that "Fury Road" is so good it transcends its genre: teen boy action movie / video game. I was hoping for something like "300," a violent action movie that is better than it needs to be. In fact "Fury Road's" star, Tom Hardy, costarred with "300"'s star, Gerard Butler. But "Fury Road" really isn't any better than any other violent, teen boy, action movie / video game. It's not exceptionally smart or funny or cinematically awe-inspiring.

There's no challenging thought or interesting history. It's just the same old same old: manmade apocalypse, humans in a devastated landscape, evil men doing despicable things, with lots and lots of chasing, punching, kicking, ugliness and loudness. After I walked out of this movie, the world was an uglier place. As I passed cars, I saw the souped-up cars of "Fury Road." Everything seemed menacing and everyone seemed to need a punch in the face. I don't think it's a good thing that movies peddle nihilism as a drug to teen boys.

"Fury Road" takes place in the future. The landscape is desert. An evil and very ugly ruler, Joe, who wears a skull mask and a Darth-Vader-style breathing apparatus, hoards water. Joe uses the water to support his population of war boys, bare-chested, muscular men in white body paint. Joe also harvests breast milk from captive women, and impregnates other captive women, "breeders," with his offspring – future war boys.

Some of his subjects make a break for it. Joe sends out his war boys to catch the escapees. The escapees are trying to make it to the green land of many mothers.

The entire movie, from start to finish, is one long chase scene. It's so fast moving and stimulating that it actually gets boring. You don't know or care about any of the characters. None of the characters are particularly likable. It's so horrible – the quick scene of women's breast milk being harvested, for example – that it becomes laughable. It's very loud and your ears ring after you leave the theater.

Tom Hardy as Mad Max spends the first twenty minutes or so of the movie being bound and tortured. Pretty passive for the star of an action movie. Charlize Theron carries the action, and she is very good. Not bad for a 39 year old woman. Nicholas Hoult is poignant as a war boy who undergoes the closest thing the movie has to character development. My favorite scene in the movie lasted about thirty seconds; Tom Hardy says, "My name is Max." It's a tiny oasis in a desert of violent chase scenes.

Men are bad and destroy and exploit; women are good and nurture. I suspect that this aspect of the film will arouse controversy.

The future is full of white people. In the large cast, only Zoe Kravitz, who is half Jewish and half black, is a bit darker skinned. This aspect of the movie will also arouse protest. The future may be a dystopic no-exit hellhole, but black people should be allowed to suffer in it as much as whites.
The war boys are eager to die for their malicious leader, Joe. Joe promises them that when they die they will go to Valhalla. I wondered if this might not be an allusion to suicide bombers dying with promises of 72 virgins on their minds.

16 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. Looks like I'll skip this one. I know what you mean about some movies just making the world uglier when you leave the theater. I prefer the other kind, like Cinderella, that made me want to "be kind and have courage" even though as a 59 yr old guy I was hardly the target audience.

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  2. Just saw it. I cannot believe all the fawning reviews. Terribly overrated. If the original films never existed and this film came out now exactly like it is, it would get decent reviews for a one-dimensional action movie (better than many other crappy action films), but no one would consider it anything special. The genius in this production is whoever orchestrated the marketing.

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  3. I completely agree also. I can't understand how this film got such glowing reviews. The action is indeed boring after a while. The acting is woeful in parts. The script is poor. The inconsistent accents annoy me. Tom Hardy sounds kind of European and he lacks any of the charisma that Mel Gibson had in the first two films. It would have been much better to have some build up to the action... perhaps a bit more of look into Joe's world with his wives etc. Then the action might have had more gravitas.

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    1. Well, I have to confess that I didn't even notice the inconsistent accents, there is so little dialogue. You are very attentive! :-)

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    2. Funny you mentioned Hardy´s failed accent, like everyone else, but didn´t mentioned Charlize Theron´s super failed accent, like everyone else. It seems to me this isn´t on Australia (it wasn´t filmed there), but somewhere in the world. No logic in time/place, like no logic in setting it in the prevous movies timeline.

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  4. I so much wanted to like this movie. I re-watched Road warrior and Thunderdome in the days prior to going to the theater...big mistake! There is so much wrong with this movie, but the most glaring is NO MEL!! Anyone see Get the Gringo or Expendables ? The former is great and he steals the latter because he is so %$#@! charming! I think Hardy is a better actor overall, but he chose to be Sly/Arnold like in this and it was a huge misstep. A better film would have had Mel as the aging Max with Hardy as protege, a kid he found in between films, a sidekick. You could have kept the story similar, just his PRESENCE would have made the difference. Whacky anti-Semite racist ahole aside, he is a MOVIE STAR and that's what this desperately needed...no disrespect to Charlize who I think did a fine job. My ultimate compliment to a film is I'd pay to see it again in a theater (Gravity, WWZ, Birdman). I dont think I could watch this again on DVD.

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    1. I'll have to check out the Expendables with Mel Gibson.

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  5. I so much wanted to like this movie. I re-watched Road warrior and Thunderdome in the days prior to going to the theater...big mistake! There is so much wrong with this movie, but the most glaring is NO MEL!! Anyone see Get the Gringo or Expendables ? The former is great and he steals the latter because he is so %$#@! charming! I think Hardy is a better actor overall, but he chose to be Sly/Arnold like in this and it was a huge misstep. A better film would have had Mel as the aging Max with Hardy as protege, a kid he found in between films, a sidekick. You could have kept the story similar, just his PRESENCE would have made the difference. Whacky anti-Semite racist ahole aside, he is a MOVIE STAR and that's what this desperately needed...no disrespect to Charlize who I think did a fine job. My ultimate compliment to a film is I'd pay to see it again in a theater (Gravity, WWZ, Birdman). I dont think I could watch this again on DVD.

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  6. So relieved to read this review - my thoughts exactly. After reading SO many glowing reviews I really expected a lot more. The stunts at the start of the film were great but then it honestly got boring. One of my favorite parts of the movie was when Max checked on the pregnant girl after a crash and gave her the thumbs up. The first two films were the best.

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  7. After reading all the perfect scores for this movie, I'm left feeling like will farrell in zoolander, "Am I taking crazy pills!?" Because the movie was full of amazing stunts but boring otherwise. There was no real character development. The story was pretty much just a premise, and a tired, time worn one at that. I've read many positive reviews and it's like they're literally just making shit up. It's like listening to film appreciation 101 students trying to justify a movie they think must be good because everyone else says it's good. but they're not sure why so they say things like "The juxtaposition of the dearth of dialog with the heavy guitar chords played by the rock guy was profound". They you have people freaking out saying things like "This movie was amazing, it was feminist as fuck!". What? Did they not notice this was just a twisted damsel in distress trope? Furiosa would never have made it on her own. She had to be rescued by two guys (max and nux?) repeatedly throughout the film, even with max keeping her alive at the end. I just sat there thinking, "how can a movie with so much action be so boring?"

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    1. it could be so boring because the characters are not developed.

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  8. Hi, Just wanted to say thanks for this review. It does me good to see at least someone echoing my sentiments. The sea of glowing praise for the film left me very confused and questioning my sanity.

    As an aside, the same was true of Winter Soldier which I felt suffered from many of the same problems as Fury Road

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  9. I truly think much of the hype surrounding Fury Road is simply based on the fact that multiple fearless women appear in the film. That's basically what puts it over the top. Make those characters men - which wouldn't really change any substantive things about the movie - and most critics wouldn't give a shit about it. I admire the lack of CGI, the visuals and the way Miller created the world he did, but I think we could all literally find ten porno movies with more character development. I'm actually not even kidding, and I am using the word "literally" literally. There are porno movies that take more time trying to develop characters. The movie's primary attempt at doing so - seen via Max's flashbacks to his daughter - were pathetically trite and added absolutely nothing. Why on earth should we care about any of these characters? When Furiosa was dying I literally didn't care. When the bad guy (what was his name?) died, I didn't care one bit. I suppose someone could argue that the viewer is placed in the role of someone caught up in the world - rendering us indifferent to everyone else - but I think it was just lazy filmmaking. Hell, Tango & Cash looks like a an absolute masterpiece of character development compared to this (and I'm not even kidding! You actually care about - and like - Tango & Cash in that movie).

    Miller was smart to make a woman the star - that's the only reason anyone cares, even if it doesn't really mean anything.

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  10. ...it bored the arse out of me....it's popularity is surely the sign of the Apocalypse.

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