‘Mad Max Fury Road’ (2015) – 5 Years Into The Apocalypse

‘Where must we go…

We who wander this Wasteland in search of our better selves?’ – The First History of Man

It’s May 2015 and you’ve just walked out of the cinema. Your mouth is hanging ajar in awe and wonder. You expected a good action film. You expected something fun and exciting. You did not expect a film that would go on to win 6 Oscars and 283 various other awards. Welcome to Mad Max Fury Road.

I’m going to take you on a ride of all things fury as I gush all over the beauty of George Miller’s latest take in the mad mad world of Mad Max.

As it’s the film’s 5-year birthday, I took another look at Fury Road, the fourth installment in the franchise… or fifth if you count the game that was well-received by most critics and the official prequel to the story of Fury Road. So, if you need more Max or a How To Drive And Survive In A Post-Apocalyptic Sand World lesson, then that is the game for you.

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron

In case you didn’t know, George Miller has directed all the Max films. Mad Max, Mad Max 2, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome… yes, that one with Tina Turner, and of course,, Fury Road. It’s Miller time.

So, Fury Road goes like this:

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search for her homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.

War Rig

Fury Road has quickly become one of those movies that film students study, and is one that stuntmen and -woman should use as a template for the stamp of quality and what to work up to. I’ve been in conversations with cinematographers about the best looking film in the last decade, and Mad Max Fury Road is always a part of that.

From the shifting color palate to the camerawork. Mad Max Fury Road is a masterclass in filmmaking. Who woulda thunk it?!? After all, people enjoyed the previous installments, but they where never held in such high regard. Going back and watching them now, you will no doubt have noticed that they have aged somewhat. Yet, every time I watch Fury Road, it gets better. A new moment will stand out to me and further cement my awe of this film.

Shiny!

This movie has no right being as good as it is. It’s essentially about someone driving through the desert being chased by a bunch of crazies, and then driving back again. That’s it. The masterful work comes from what’s created inside that.

Our two protagonists are played by Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa and Tom Hardy taking over as Max Rockatansky. These two have incredible, character-building moments. Tom plays a mentally broken man whose ghosts from his past still haunt him. Theron’s character is all about redemption.

One thing you’ll notice about Mad Max Fury Road is that there is next to no dialogue. The story is told 80% through visual storytelling. This means that your actors need to have presence on screen and need to able to convey emotion through visual cues to the audience. The fact that these two could both do this is amazing, not just because they are great at their jobs, but because they were having a feud on set.

Max and his car

The shoot was a grueling torturous nine-month long event in the Namibian desert. The long night shoots were so cold that castmember Riley Keough (The Lodge 2020 – read our review here) came down with hypothermia. Theron and Hardy both admitted to being in over their heads for the project. Tom was particularly in a tough spot as he had Mel Gibson’s shoes to fill. So, after five months, Hardy and Theron were at each other’s throats, and Tom took it out on the director. Thankfully, their blood, sweat and tears paid off. The actors are open about their experiences on Mad Max Fury Road and have said in interviews that they would handle things differently today.

I did love the performances of Theron and Tom, but my favorite character took on a smaller role, one of an unsung hero and another redemption story – Nux, played by Nicholas Holt. You may know him as Beast from some of the X-Men movies. The journey of Nux is interwoven beautifully into the film’s main arc. For me, the impact of his character’s story holds more emotion than any of the others. Nux’s story is just one of many in this car chase extravaganza.

Oh, what a lovely day!

When watching Fury Road, have a look where Miller directs the viewer’s eye. The action, the movement… all is centered in the middle of the middle. It’s a technique used purposely in this film and part of the reason you can miss so much in the background. Miller uses every second to pull the audience in, to get them to see exactly what he wants them to see and it pays off massively. 

Furiosa

John Seale was the cinematographer on Fury Road, and his talent oozes into every frame. Every shot is a vibrant world-building feast for the eyeballs. I can’t discuss the look of the film, however, without talking about the score, as these two go hand in hand for this story. They complement each other so completely it was like Junky XL was on set with Seale and Miller as they created their masterpiece.  One must only look their names up on IMDB to see the plethora of incredible projects they have created before and since.

The talent involved from crew to actors came together to create a movie that many filmmakers only dream about. James Cameron has Aliens and Terminator. Steven Spielberg has E.T and Jaws. George Miller has Mad Max Fury Road.

Rumors have been floating around for years about a new installment and prequel to Fury Road. No date has been set, and COVID makes everything delayed by a year at least, but my fingers are crossed. This film was so delayed initially that George had time to write two backstories, one of which is called Mad Max: Wasteland.

About Ruben Lee Shaw

Movies have been a part of Ruben's life for as long as he can remember. His first film experience was E.T. when he was 5 in a dark grotty cinema in Amsterdam (at least that is how he remembers it). He grew up in South Africa and studied Film and Television production in the UK, which is where he now resides with his stunning wife, 2 interesting teenagers, a fat cat, a crazy dog, and sometimes a dark passenger, (his very imaginative imagination). He has worked on both features and short films and has experience as a journalist/reviewer for films, tv, and games. In 2016 he created his own super Geeky brand called The Ruby Tuesday.  Ruben has a love for horror and things that go bump in the night, although he himself will admit to being a scaredy-cat. Ruben's first teen-fantasy-horror novel is to be released in 2018. Some of his favorite creatives and their creations are Stephen King (It and on writing), Dean Koontz, (Odd Thomas series) Ridley Scott (Alien), C. S. Lewis (Narnia and Screwtape letters) John Carpenter (The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China), James Herbert (Rats) and Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labrythn, Hellboy and The Book of Life). Ruben continues to push the boundaries of his imagination and intends to release three novels and short films in the coming years.

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