Yes I did give George Miller the benefit. For the first hour I might have said something like: ‘Miller is one of a handful of guys in the world who should be allowed to make action movies.’
The film opens with breathtaking sequences, an apocalyptic cult world that amps up everything we’ve seen before to new heights. When Furiosa takes off on her dash to escape the insanity, it’s a welcome twist and completely understandable.
Charlize was great, fitting right into this post-civilization, but bringing a tender, feminine humanity to contrast against much of what happens.
All I can say about Tom Hardy is that he’s no Mel Gibson. Part of that has to do with his hulking presence, too much muscle. He isn’t given much to play after the opening rallies. He’s silenced and other actors take center stage. Max is a pawn, and the events carry him along for the most part. This is the Mad Max formula. Max is always an outsider caught up in the survival struggles of others, but destined to wander the desert wastelands alone in his madness.
It seemed we would get a bigger taste of Max’s madness this time. Flashes of characters dead and gone haunt him, disrupt him, and cripple him. It looked like these ghostly flashbacks would be building to something, but they became repetitive with all the focus turned toward giant action sequences rather than any progress with Max’s insanity. It felt like a loose end that never developed.
Miller’s innovations, The Road Warrior on crack, were primarily in the area of tactics and stunts. The story initially went on its own path, only to become predictable by the third act. For that reason I could fault Miller for running out of Guzzoline before reaching the next level.
My audience, an almost packed house in N. California, froze at closing credits. Were they going to applaud? Tense seconds passed. People rose up. Silence mostly. A couple of smarmy jibes. A handful of us remained seated through the several thousand names, content to relax and avoid any exertion after such a kinetic experience.
I’m a bit stunned that 98% of critics have applauded, outstripping audiences at 92% today on Rotten Tomatoes. The initial immersion into Miller’s cult scavenger civilization leaves such a strong impression, and it’s been decades since Max has roamed the desert wastelands. People are craving more. So there you have it.
Behind the Scenes Footage (Spoilers)