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MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

SYNOPSIS: Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max (Tom Hardy) believes the best way to survive is to wander alone. Nevertheless, he becomes swept up with a group fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by an elite Imperator, Furiosa (Charlize Theron). They are escaping a Citadel tyrannized by the Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), from whom something irreplaceable has been taken. Enraged, the Warlord marshals all his gangs and pursues the rebels ruthlessly in the high-octane Road War that follows.

Review by Louise Keller:
Raw explosive energy perpetuates throughout this wild choreographed ballet of chaos in which desperation is the key weapon for survival. Like the earlier Mad Max films, in which edgy stunts and bravado filmmaking are an integral part, George Miller's Fury Road is a visceral experience: a head-on collision of surreal imagery in an eye-boggling apocalyptic reality. What's so exciting about the film is its sense of dangerous insanity and the feeling there is no safety net, as boundaries are pushed to unfathomable extremes. While the undercurrent of emotion drives the film like a throbbing V8 engine, it is the impact of Oscar-winning cinematographer John Seale's visuals that make it, along with its mind-blowing stunts and relentless action.

It comes somewhat as a shock to be thrust headlong into Max's grim world where every instinct screams for survival; we are almost swallowed up by dust from the harsh, stark, lethal beauty of the Namibian desert. The dialogue is minimal. It is through the powerful images and action that the characters and settings are established.

There's an intense ferocity in which the Road Warrior, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is taken prisoner by Immortan (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a ruthless dictator whose hideous visage with huge, clenched fake teeth, breathing tubes, long white hair and a transparent armour give him a beast-like, terrifying look. (Keays-Byrne, who plays Toecutter in the original 1979 Mad Max, is suitably formidable.) It's a chase movie, involving Immortan and his tribe of out of control war boys' deadly pursuit of the warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), whose treasonous deed is to abscond with five beautiful young girls: the dictator's prize breeders. (The girls are a great distraction.) Max becomes inadvertently involved, iron mask chained onto his face and connected vein to vein to Nicholas Hoult's ethereal war boy Nux, complete with shaved head, white body paint, tattoos, scars and extraordinary scalloped lips. Nux is a haunting character and Hoult is terrific.

The scene when Max stumbles upon Furiosa and the five girls, a vision draped in flowing white, is totally surreal. Dust and desperation contrasts purity and beauty. The girls are all excellent, adding a different dimension to the reality.

The film looks amazing: Dramatic imagery includes driving across the flat, sandy desert into an approaching dust storm that resembles a torrential waterfall and beautifully lit, close ups in the rig, when the intense, powerful expressions on Hardy and Theron's angst-ridden faces are captured. There's a dreamlike quality about the night shots in which the blue moon-light effect could almost be on another planet.

Sporting a buzz cut, a greased face and a determined glint in her eye, Theron delivers emotional ballast as the one-armed Amazonian warrior searching for redemption. Her inner sadness as she searches for the place she calls home, is palpable. Furiosa drives the action; this is as much her story as that of Mad Max. Unsurprisingly, everything relies on the casting of Max and Hardy is the perfect choice. He says little but actions speak louder than words. There is plenty of it - action that is - and Hardy embodies the iconic character in every sense: the loner who elects to survive alone. He is complex - a beguiling mix of brute strength and humanity. It is another triumph for Hardy.

Of course it wouldn't be a Mad Max film without the souped up cars and there are 150 handcrafted cars and bikes that are more akin to wild beasts than automobiles. Each has a character and it is impossible not to revel at the wondrous creations. Central is Furiosa's war rig, a massive contraption made from a bastardised Czech Tatra and Chev Fleetmaster, fused into a six-wheel-drive powered by twin V8 engines. Add to that a VW Bug and truck cabin shells - it's quite amazing. But all the cars and rigs are spectacular and there are innumerable action highlights. I love the red-caped Doof Warrior who swings from a bungee cord at the back of Immortan's imposing Gigahorse ('a Cadillac on steroids'), his double necked electric guitar wailing. The incongruity of this imagery reminded me of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. A Cirque du Soleil performer assembled the pole vault scene in which warriors leap from pole vaults from one speeding vehicle to the next. It's breathtaking.

There are surprisingly few peaks and troughs in the music department; Junkie XL's score has an unrelenting sameness about it, but perhaps that was Miller's intention. Colin Gibson's production design is superb. Mad Max Fury Road is one hell of a film and Miller has outdone himself. It's a ride on the wild side.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0


JOHN SEALE ACS, ASC ONSET

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (tba)
(Aust, 2015)

CAST: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Nathan Jones, Josh Helman, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Richard Carter, John Howard, iOTA, Angus Sampson, Jennifer Hagan, Megan Gale, Melissa Jaffer, Melita Jurisic, Gillian Jones, Joy Smithers

PRODUCER: George Miller, Doug Mitchell, P.J. Voeten

DIRECTOR: George Miller

SCRIPT: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Seale ASC, ACS

EDITOR: Jason Ballantine, Margaret Sixel

MUSIC: Junkie XL

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Colin Gibson

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 14, 2015







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