Although initially apprehensive of going to see Mad Max, having been underwhelmed by the frankly bizarre trailer that blared out of every television and cinema screen for the past couple of months, this wildly frenetic action film won me over.
The film has been conceived by the same director of the original trilogy as a direct sequel rather than a reboot but this wasn’t to the detriment of those who hadn’t seen the other films as the first 10 minutes are used to explain the plot and characters in this apocalyptic Australia.
After that we’re thrown straight into what is essentially a two hour car chase. Some may think this to be a dubious premise for a film but somehow it really does work and there is still enough plot here for there to be some sort of character progression rather than it just being blaring noise (making this stand out from the likes of the Transformers series).
In terms of the plot, this film actually has quite a lot to say on major themes in the 21st century such as feminism, patriarchy and sustainability. Whilst in many action films women are just put in bikinis and are seen as nothing more than a sexualised object, in Mad Max they are largely seen as some of the stronger characters by hatching their own escape plans from sexual slavery rather than relying upon being saved by men.
Being an action movie set in a dystopian future there is obviously going to being a lot of emphasis placed upon sustainability, with the main gist of the plot is humanity trying to survive in a world struggling with a lack of oil, water and healthy soil.
The real joy of this film though is its freneticism. Everything about Mad Max is over the top, notably the bombastic soundtrack by Junkie XL which includes a flame throwing guitar playing desert murder dude on the front of one of the vehicles thus really incorporating the music into the film whilst ensuring that it’s always in keeping with the overall tone. Elsewhere drums are used most notably and the tempo really adds to the tension in some scenes which left the audience on the edge of their seats.
Also the way that Mad Max has been filmed makes it look even more live wired. Very few of the shots linger on an image for terribly long, constantly alternating thus when something jumps out by surprise it adds to the shock value. In addition the frames per second occasionally noticeably alternates thus making movements look jerky and jumpy to add to the frenetic tone.
The use of colour here really makes it stand out from other apocalyptic thrillers too. As the director George Miller has said, films of this ilk often have bleak desaturated colours so by using bright colours this film really stands out. This is most noticeable when you see bright blue skies contrasting with the orange sand dunes.
During an early scene with a sand storm there are flashes of frames in monochrome which is the only time when bright colours aren’t piercing through the screen. This is wink towards the black and white version of the film which is to be released on blu-ray and it will be very interesting to see if this changes the overall effect of the film or not.
The action is the clear focal point of the film with about 80% of it being carried out through practical effects, make up and stunts, a breath of fresh air in an era dominated by CGI-heavy films. Even better is that whilst the action is so dominant it doesn’t completely overpower the actors so, whilst it isn’t exactly dialogue-heavy, the performances are still effective and convincing (even if Tom Hardy’s accent seems to change throughout).
Whilst this is still a sequel, they have managed to create a truly unique film that definitely stands as one of the greatest action movies of recent years and you’ll be hard pushed to find a more entertaining blockbuster this summer.