Sunday, May 17, 2015

Film Review - Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
At one point in the Mad Max: Fury Road, a character calls bullets “anti-seeds” because you plant one and then watch something die. This is not a big part of the film, nor did its director George Miller put some special emphasis to this idea, which is delivered in less than 20 seconds and then never mentioned again.

But, as soon as I heard it, I thought to myself that this is a pretty interesting idea, but more importantly, one that I never heard before. It made sense instantly while, at the same time, it was very original and funny in a dark way. I had one of those “why didn’t I came up with that idea first?” moment. Its morbid, biting, and comical wisdom is like the entire film. In it, there is nothing spectacularly new or never seen before. But, as a whole, it’s an anti-thesis to the idea that big blockbuster films need to be stupid or made by Christopher Nolan.

Essentially, George Miller took the story of Mad Max 2 and made it into something perfectly crafted for the Millennials, but he did not cater to their short span of attention like AAA action films usually do. He also didn’t do what Nolan does and try to show them how shallow or self-centered they are by making even more shallow and self-centered films. Miller made a film that is relentless like a rabid dog and lost in oneself like an addict before an OD shot. In it, the action is not something that happens; it is the only thing that happens, but this does not rob the film of depth or meaning. Like the anti-seed idea, it’s cleverer that the audience, but the audience does not feel this in any negative way.

In fact, like Dredd 3D, it injects its sense of purpose through action, violence and machines breaking up and exploding. In an endless post-apocalyptic desert, a single man tries to run and escape a warrior society that captured him. On his path, he meets a woman called Imperator Furiosa driving a War Rig and looking to escape from the same society, carrying a precious cargo. The man does not care for her, but he will help her to make sure he stays alive. Film like The Rover show us how it can begin in the Australian outback. Films like this one shows us here it will end up.

In Mad Max: Fury Road there is no sugar coating and no attention grabbing. Like a face submerged in a bowl of water, there is only the now because the next breath might flood the lungs. In the desolate, savage and sand-covered space, the escape is not a plot device, but the plot itself. It does not want to stop and it can’t stop unless War Rigs occupants are victorious or dead. This film is like Transformers made by a person who does not care about the focus group feedback and producer cuts. It only needs to roll out and its tires have to dig deep into the ground because that is its only purpose. Stay moving, stay alive, and continue to watch. But it’s not serious about itself, or any of its characters. At the place and time where they exist, being alive is a transient category. All along, glorious cinematography and 3D effects paint the movie in every tone of the Ultraviolent specter. And then the film ends.

No one will fall asleep during this film. Some might leave it, but no one can ignore it. The same is true for the entire Hollywood industry, where a myth about the idea that blockbusters have to be only a certain type of film (I mentioned already the stupid vs. dark dichotomy). George Miller showed with Mad Max: Fury Road that gripping cinema only needs to grip you and its authors can choose among many ways it can do this. This film’s grip will leave on most people burn marks that will last for days.