|Film review: Mad Max: Fury Road|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Thursday, 14 May 2015 17:45|
Director: George Miller
"It was hard to know who's more crazy; me, or everyone else."
So says Tom Hardy's Max at the start of Mad Max: Fury Road, before munching on a lizard. It's a theory that director George Miller relentlessly puts to the test for two hours, filling his screen with cars, carnage and grotesque characters - none of whom question the grammar of that opening sentence.
You soon realise why: there's no time to think about comparative adjectives. In fact, there's no time to think about anything, as the opening shot drives straight into a car chase that sees things blow up, flip over, crash into other things and blow up again.
30 minutes later and we're given what little exposition is needed: the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Earth has turned everyone bananas, with crowds of thirsty souls mindlessly following Immortan Joe (Hugh "Toecutter" Keays-Byrne), a leader who promises water, fuel and the chance of going to Valhalla should they die trying to protect either. While they crawl about on the dusty ground, he stands above them in a skull-carved mountain, with a horde of wives for breeding. Unsurprisingly, they've had enough.
Their escape collides with that of Max, a shared purpose that sees the outsiders unite in one gigantic, armoured truck. Miller throws his humans together like he does his vehicles: with a visceral love of things that go crunch. Machines and men meet head-on again and again, each time in more creative combinations, and all overlaid in a never-ending blend of cyan and tangerine. It's like being dunked in a bath of Fanta while your eyeballs are spray-painted with Listerine.
The CGI proves a surprisingly good match for the practical chaos, mixing the otherworldly imagination with a tangible gore. To say the set pieces are dazzling in their ingenious brutality is an understatement: the entire film is one big set piece, with small chunks of dialogue chucked in between the well-oiled cogs. It's like watching Speed on fast-forward.
Miller's streamlined approach applies to his character development too, letting his star's actions reveal more about them than any clunky speeches. Tom Hardy swaggers through it with a casual intensity, like Mel Gibson's unhinged cousin, but the most surprising thing is that he's not the main character at all: that honour falls to Charlize Theron's Furiosa, who fights her way out of Joe's clutches with bad-ass efficiency. She's nobody's property. And she has a bionic arm. How did she get it? Who cares? It's what she does with it that matters.
The same is true of Joe's younger wives, who become increasingly active agents in their dash for freedom, and Nicholas Hoult's likeably dim Nux, a loser who accidentally falls in with our rebels. Together, they drive one way down a very long road. Then, they drive in the opposite direction. The almost gracefully simple journey hurtles along at a pace that makes Paul Greengrass look like Terrence Malick, while Miller packs the backseat with all kinds of intriguing details, from religious cults and incest to humanoid crows and pole-vaulting warriors.
By the end of the adrenaline rush, it's hard to know who's more crazy: Miller, who also directed Baby: Pig in the City, or the people who allowed him near a movie camera. One thing's for certain: the rules of language have never seemed more irrelevant. Grammar? Who cares about grammar when you can crash a man's head with a steering wheel? A feminist blockbuster with rip-roaring action, Mad Max: Fury Road is so insanely entertaining that it defies words. It's brilliant. It's bonkers. It's bronkers.