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George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” Reviewed

the-world-goes-madMad Max “Fury Road” is the art pop version of a Marvel Comics superhero movie: same stuff, attacked differently. Just like, say, the Avengers, it throws you into the deep end. Max (Tom Hardy) a post-apocalyptic man with no name in a dry as dust Australia run by small conclaves of minority fiefdoms, is caught, tattooed and ready to die when Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), out on a run with some back up guys, decides to split for the Greenland. In hot pursuit, the armies of the army of the despots in hot pursuits, one, Tony of the UK Skins, with Max as the masthead, chase her, giving max the chance to escape and then join Furiosa.

And off we go. It takes an hour for George Miller, 30 years after his first Mad Mamovie, to calm down and feed us some scraps of plot and the problem is that the first hour has so little invested in it by the time the story kicks in, you don’t have much invested either.

Furiosa is trying to take the Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), said despots breeding women, to safety and Max is at first just trying to get free and then joins in the run to safety. It is all a touch episodic, a part of Max’s on going story in the desert but not his STORY STORY, not where Max is going. Like “A Fistful Of Dollars”, Max is a drifter, who just finds himself in the middle of the action.

In a world of diminished expectations, Miller’s skill at saturated violence and the color scheming old bike chic and skull and daggers proto-Keith Richards scallywag power pop of pasty soldiers, and crunched up power balling transportations, is pop culture at its best. Charlize’s “Imperator Furiosa” , a one armed bandit, is the best thing about the movie. My friend James Reynolds compared her to Wendy O Williams, and while Helen Bach thought it devalued Furiosa’s asexual power, I see what he means. Charlize is a new type of hero, a post-feminist superstar of gender fuck.

Max himself is somewhere between a blank screen for you to project on and a three dimensional character with only one dimension on show. Best of all is Tony (or rather Nicholas Hoult) as Nux. Nux is like we assume the ISIS soldiers are like, hellbent for Valhalla, embracing their death in the name of Immortan, if not Allah, but who is changed by romantic love. It is a fine performance by Hoult, a sort of nuanced insanity and it adds some humor, slapstick, to the proceedings.

Though not nearly as good as the reviews might have you believe, if you can get off on all the bang zoom as much as George Miller’ does, you are in for a fine trip back and forth on “Fury Road”.

Grade: B

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