Re-View, with Matt Murphy - DEX columnist
DISCLOSURE - I don't really like action movies. Mindless violence, excessive explosions and conscious free killing. Action for the sake of it. I shake my head and ask to what level do these slick computer generated sequences give the masses pleasure? The same level where once we went to the Coliseum to see our blood sport perhaps? But it's ok now is it? Because it's all make believe? And don't get me started on sequels. They make them these days even if the first one was bad!
What a 'kill joy' I am.
It is almost impossible not to get caught up in the crazy ride along Fury Road. Why? Why is this one ok? Is it because it is 'Australian'? Or at least its prequels were? Sure there is some nostalgia but essentially because there is some substance behind the kamikaze carnage. Because really it's about hope and survival in this insane world. Sure it is completely over the top, but it knows this and revels in it. Mainly though, it's because it is just so well made.
Australian veteran filmmaker George Miller (Babe, Happy Feet, Lorenzo's Oil, The Dismissal) creates a few grounded characters we can cheer for but mostly grotesque savages to cheer against. His 'car' sequences and stunts are largely real and it is with this reality that builds the continued, palpable tension. Fury Road survives on a simple chase plot and could have been just as good without the dialogue in that 'every picture tells a thousand words'. The rust and raw colours are rich and dirty and the endless dry deserts evoke insanity and desperation in every frame.
The earlier Mad Max films with a fearless and rising Mel Gibson helped the re-emergence of Australian film in the 1970's. They had raw car action sequences like no other at the time and tapped into our own helplessness of survival in our own vast dry centre.
Tom Hardy is a fine actor and fills Max's shoes admirably as the survivalist loner but really it is Charlize Theron's film with her character Furiosa - a one armed redemption seeking machine (well partial machine). Hers is the heartbeat of the film and with it she carries the hopes of the world. Especially the feminine world. For George Miller somehow creates a vision where our rise and fall on this earth is intrinsically linked with our treatment of women. For they carry the life on this planet. Their 'Mother's Milk' being the ultimate fuel.
How he's done that in the middle of this insane world is the genius.