Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (15)

I've driven home from cinemas on more occasions than I care to count.

As someone who passed his test back when it was actually a difficult thing to do, the simple act of hopping behind the wheel and heading home is one I am quite at ease with.

Except for today.

Today, I had to really make sure I didn't just hit the gas and race like hell. I did, however, keep a constant vigilance for other vehicles coming after me.

Because, you know, I'm not an idiot.

And why, I hear you ask, were you behaving like this?

Simple. Mad Max. It's what this film does to you.

Now, I'll be honest, having had a quick refresh of the first three films (the last of which came out 30 years ago) I approached Fury Road with some trepidation.

I know the original trilogy has it's fans, but I can't stand alongside them. The original films were terrible.

And not in a good way.

Terrible acting, abysmal dialogue, plots that made less sense than an unsubtitled Welsh soap opera - they really had nothing going for them.

So why, then, when such a winning formula has been loyally stuck to, was this one so much more fun?

Let's be clear about this from the off - this is not a good film. Not in the traditional sense at least.

The plot (Max is captured, escapes, gets captured again, gets thrown into a chase for others who have escaped, helps them with said escape) is as dumb as you'd expect. Especially when you factor in all the made-up words for stuff, plus the dumb names people are given.

(Before you start, yeah, I know, it's sci-fi, dumb names come as standard - it's just they seem dumber here.)

As for the dialogue, that's a heady mix of half-garbled words crossed with brief moments of weighty prose lacking any real weight.

Then there's Max himself.

As a noted Tom Hardy fan, this is not his finest hour (that's still Locke) - especially given he's channelling his inner Bane, mask and odd accent included.


Despite all this.

Despite everything.

This film is one hell of a lot of fun.

Charlize Theron (as Imperator Furiosa - see, told ya) and Nicholas Hoult both put in fine performances, and while Hardy may not be asked to do much he makes you feel every punch and swing as the endless action set-pieces fly past.

And it's relentless.

Coming in at just under two hours, there really is no let-up from the car chases, fights, shoot-outs, bike chases, scraps, pursuits and melees.

Essentially it's Scrapheap Challenge crossed with Robot Wars held on a Top Gear road trip.

It's simply breathtaking.

You feel every nudge and shove, every shot and stab, every ram, every flame throw. Everything is thrown at you, and it all hits home.

And it just looks amazing, to the extent you can almost taste the dust clouds.

The only thing missing is the kitchen sink, but, you, know, they all disappeared post-nuclear meltdown.

I suspect this film is just as much of an onslaught in a normal 2D screening, but it actually deserves the full IMAX (Mad IMAX if you will) treatment as the 3D seems to just make everything come to life.

And the image of a steering wheel flying straight at my head made my inner-child grin from ear to ear.

As I said, if complicated plots and well-drawn characters with something to say is your thing then Mad Max will be wasted on you.

But if a white-knuckle roller coaster ride that leaves you literally breathless, with genuine peril and threat at every turn (all bets are off on who might survive from very early on) is how you want to spend a couple of hours this not only hits the spot it sets fire to it, drags it through the desert, stabs it, shoots it, stabs it again then runs over it.

And then gets really nasty.

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