In the wake of a relentless gushing of praise for George Miller’s reboot of his Mad Max franchise, Online Screen Editor, Jack Smith questions whether it is really worth all the fuss.
[dropcap size=small]S[/dropcap]o, Mad Max: Fury Road came out a couple of weeks ago and everybody has been going crazy about it. It premiered at Cannes and was press-screened a day before it was released , and so I went to see it on opening night having been a bit blown away by the reviews. I have seen the first two of the original films and quite enjoyed them so I was rather excited to see the amount of critical acclaim Fury Road was garnering. I emerged not only exhausted, but with fairly ambivalent feelings towards it, yet since then I have still heard nothing but good reviews (it stands at 98% positive on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing). This has left me wondering, am I really the only person who didn’t like Mad Max: Fury Road?
I felt like writing a review at the time, yet I thought I would be unfair to it as I’m fully aware that I’m not the type of person at which this film is aimed. I don’t watch a great deal of action movies, or blockbusters in general for that matter, however Fury Road has so many glaring problems for me that I just can’t overlook them.
My main issue is the monotony of it all. I laud it for its notion of, “we want to make an action movie so let’s just do action from beginning to end”, but it was just so loud and brash the whole time that it just got tiring after a while. For example, instead of just having a fight, staging a fight on a moving car is much more special and exciting because it’s faster and more dangerous than just a classic fight on the ground. So, it’s as if they thought that having fights on moving cars were so great that they should make that the whole movie, however, it loses its effect because there is no contrast with other kind of fighting on the ground. It is impressive at first but becomes almost banal.
Moreover, I accept that this is a pure action movie, but I just need a bit more plot, if any really. Otherwise this onslaught of violence just seems unnecessary. It got a bit too ridiculous when the characters reached a literal turning point that almost made me want to walk out. The premise of the movie is that there are several oddly religious patriarchal colonies from which Max and a group of women escape. After a time, you realise that the chase could end up taking the whole duration of the film until they finally get away and the audience can take a breather. Now, this would be a spoiler if there was a more than a negligible plot to spoil. Yet, the writers are just taking gigantic liberties when they decide that they have to go back the way they came to the very place from which they escaped. I read that George Miller already has a couple more scripts for the next instalments, but when this happened, I really wasn’t surprised. He probably writes them in his sleep.
It treads a very thin line between being a serious action film with its stoic protagonists of Max and Furiosa, and just an ozploitaion flick with a gigantic budget, epitomised with its laughably ridiculous villains (and writing). For me, it tripped up too many times, and I simply didn’t enjoy the experience, and not in a Gaspar Noé kind of way. I acknowledge that it has rather impressive stunts and a great visceral tone that pervades everything else, and that I am being exclusively negative in response to so much praise. Also, there is all this fuss about the gender politics, which is rightly commended, about how Miller empowers his female characters but if anything this just highlights how hideously twisted the situation in Hollywood is. But am I being too unfair and is this form of pure sensory bombardment really the future of action cinema?
Jack Smith, Online Screen Editor