Saturday, June 3, 2023


May 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Director George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road roared off at a blazing world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, a day before its opening in the U.S. At a press screening, international critics cheered and applauded many of the most elaborate action scenes. (Unlike U.S. critics, overseas film writers tend to be unapologetic movie junkies who applaud the Cannes contenders as they enter the festival’s news conference auditorium and generally ask the most fawning questions). The fourth Mad Max movie — 12 years have passed since the third one, and Tom Hardy has taken over the title role from Mel Gibson — certainly lives up to its hype. It’s two hours of nearly non-stop fury as the audience is treated to — or battered by — a war between a handful of good guys and an army of bad ones. (Spoiler alert: in the end, the good guys win.) Hardy probably learned all of his lines in the movie in ten minutes; there’s hardly a scene of dialogue that lasts more than a few seconds. As Tim Grierson writes in the British trade publication Screen Daily: “For a while, Fury Road’s complete disinterest in screenwriting fundamentals feels liberating … But what feels liberating at first can become monotonous, and Fury Road starts to drag once the frenetic sameness of Miller’s strategy takes hold. If one utterly bravura action sequence is revelatory, four or five in the exact same style borders on overkill.” Likewise Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian describes the film as “extravagantly deranged, ear-splittingly cacophonous, and entirely over the top … [an] entirely demented film.” But their (minority) criticism will likely fly off the movie the way all manner of bombinating ammunition flies off the elaborate futuristic vehicles doing battle through the Namibian deserts carved by Fury Road. Robbie Collin in the London Telegraph refers to the movie as “nothing less than a Krakatoan eruption of craziness” — but in a good way. He goes on to write: “With its spare dialogue and dazzlingly choreographed and edited stunts, Miller’s film often feels like a great silent movie – albeit a very loud one.” Several critics take note of the absence of any real plot but quickly dismiss their own nitpicking. For example, Geoffrey Macnab in the London Independent comments: “Far more attention has been paid to creating the vision of Mad Max’s dystopian world that to finding a convincing story to tell about it. Then again, with such incessant and vivid action, there is very little time given us to worry about the creakiness in the plotting.” A.O. Scott in the New York Times, however, argues that plots need not depend on words. As he puts it, “A cut or a pan can explain or express much more than words. When Fury Road reaches for emotional grandeur it relies on the faces of its cast … When it wants to crack jokes, the movie reaches for quick, profane sight gags or elaborate feats of Newtonian improbability.” A few critics don’t even raise the issue. “This spectacularly great reboot” is the way Lou Lumenick refers to it in the New York Post. It is, he concludes, “the finest action film so far this century.”