Saturday, 20 June 2015

Mad Max: The End of the Road

Theron and Hardy should really have their names switched round on the billing

The internet, and the movie press at large, is full of praise for the smash-hit of the summer Mad Max Fury Road. This high stakes adrenaline rush rollercoaster movie invites us into a dystopian vision of the future where we follow out protagonist, Furiosa, as she first travels back to where she came from, and then decides she was better off where she started. This whirlwind 3D extravaganza full of dazzling special effects, expert stuntwork and Hollywood beauties will keep you chowing your popcorn for the full duration. Yes this re-imagining, dare we say re-birth, of the Mad Max franchise firmly re-establishes the story of Mr Rockatanski for the 21st Century.

would you rather see Max do this...
...or this?

Well, if by re-imagine we mean a focus on the spectacle over substance, and by re-birth we mean disregard to any known plot threads, then yes we can say Mad Max is back. Max the bystander, Max the man out of time, Max the superhero, Max the one dimensional cartoon. Gone is the everyman driven to the edge, the working class hero, and in his place is a smirking placeholder, ready to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire ad nauseam.

the trash has arrived to ruin your peaceful life

There is no denying that stuntwork and no frills action are a cornerstone of Mad Max enduring appeal, but the foundation is a strong, character driven plot, reflecting the simple, violent horror of a society on the edge of collapse. The Toe Cutters biker gang feel real, their threat was imminent (many of them were actual bikers wheeled in (literally) as extras). Johnny the Boy, Bubba Zanetti, Cundalini. Where once believable, motivated characters walked, now a production line of identikit pale faced villains throw themselves over the top of the trenches, where once drama and action walked hand in hand, now hyperbole and sensationalism keep both hands firmly on the wheel, and where once we were offered empathy we now just stand and stare.

True horror - your wife and child murdered

As an exercise in blunt entertainment Mad Max Fury Road certainly kept my bum on the seat, but the legacy of the Mad Max I know so well has been left in the desert dust. When comparing the two films I cant help but think of this scene from Mad Max:

"If your gonna waste the Bronze you gotta do it big!" says Johnny the Boy

"You just don't have the style, do ya chickenshit" retorts Bubba

End Notes.

Tom Hardy does a pretty good job of filling Mel's leathers.

I laughed out loud in the cinema when i realised the crazy world MMFR is set in would supposedly have come to be within say 15/20 years of there having been a 'normal' society. (Max claims he had been a cop, assuming he is in his mid 30's and everything went pearshaped almost as soon as he left polis school....)

Notions that MMFR is feminist come purely from the fact that Charlize Theron's character is pretty much the main character. I'm not sure what that says except Miller was trying to broaden the film's appeal? Likewise what do the scantily clad models do but pull wee laddies back for repeat views? Oh yeah they help create a realistic vision of a dystopian future etc etc etc...