I sat there, mouth agape, knuckles white and eyes glistening with fiery glee . . .
And I thought to myself: this is different, this is new, this is more . . .
More movie than I’ve ever seen up on the big screen. More movie than my mortal soul can handle. More than my delicate eyes can comprehend.
I watched on as (soon to be feminist icon) Imperator Furiosa (the immense Charlize Theron) led her precious cargo, Moses-like, across the scorched earth towards the promise of a future free from the foul gropings of the tyrannical Immortan Joe. And I marvelled at the onslaught Joe sent her way in the hope of reclaiming all that was taken from him.
In that instinctual premise, George Miller, the 70-year old captain of this majestic vessel, finds cinematic purity. A blissful nirvana of biblical clarity. His storytelling is lean and intensely focused, resulting in a motion picture that is defined by just that; motion. Always moving, always forwards. Every detail, every look, every tyre squeal revs the engine just that little bit more.
And what engines! Miller’s design team have crafted a nightmarish stampede of singed metal and blistered rubber. He expertly juggles the different clans, providing them each with an iconic arsenal, whilst always elevating the overriding appetite for destruction. But, the brilliant design work doesn’t end there. You get the feeling Miller has fine-tuned every last detail to match his twisted vision, and every mask, grenade, explosive spear, nipple piercing and grease-drenched steering wheel feels part of a harmonious whole.
But wait, there’s more! Miller’s Namibian-location is perfect in every conceivable way. The landscapes are muscular, yet breathtakingly gorgeous. The equatorial Sun infuses the entire movie with a tangible sense of naturalism. Miller seemingly does away with the artifice of unnatural light and instead wields the mighty power of our life-giving Sun. He utilises the natural contrast between the seared sands and the vibrant blue skies, resulting in a movie that looks like no other. His dazzling colour palette instils an almost palpable level of immersion, with the sweltering days becoming increasingly feverish and the frosty nights ever numbing.
Even more overwhelming is the focus on death-defying practical effects. If Miller is to be believed, he really did send rusted death traps somersaulting through the air in fireballs of fury. One sequence places the practical stunts inside an inconceivably vast (and presumably) CGI sandstorm and the symbiosis of practical and CG is extraordinary. Enhancing the mayhem is Junkie XL’s terrific, and suitably bonkers, score. He channels the best work of Hans Zimmer, infusing the latter’s affinity for bombast with a through line of anarchic delirium. Yet, in that sandstorm scene, he somehow managed to draw a hint of moisture from my exhausted eyes.
Mad Max: Fury Road is a drag race of a movie, if ever there was one. Its unwavering insanity may alienate some but, for others, it will stand as a proud bastion of boundary-pushing cinema. Movies have felt the same for decades now but, with ‘Fury Road’, Miller suggests there may be more to this magnificent art form than we could ever have imagined . . .
And, a word on the 3D, if I may. While Miller has declared his preference for the 2D version, don’t let that put you off, if (like myself) you have limited access to any 2D screenings. Miller’s exceptional use of natural light ensures it’s the best 3D work I’ve seen in a long time.