One of my favourite moments in “Mad Max – Fury Road” comes when a gigantic truck (or “war rig”) roars past a desolate swamp inhabited by stilt-walking mutants.
The mutants continue their mysterious swamp-wading activities as the truck passes.
The mutants are not explained. The shot lasts a few seconds.
But the scene sums up much that is magnificent in the explosion of insanity which is Mad Max: Fury Road. If you’re going to set a movie in an imagined post-apocalyptic world, you’d better make that world look exotic, gritty and all-round awesome from start to finish.
I’m not going to review the movie at length because you can pick up most of what you need to know from the trailer. Unlike most trailers, it sums up the qualities of Max Max: Fury Road accurately.
The whole two hours of Mad Max: Fury Road takes place at the same frenetic pace as the trailer. Especially the first, exquisite, hour.
For 60 minutes I thought “this is daft turned up to eleven, but possibly one of the most exciting films I’ve ever seen”.
It’s like that iconic opening sequence in the original Raiders of the Lost Ark movie, stretched out for sixty barmy minutes.
In fact, looking at the Raiders opening sequence again I can’t help wondering if MM:FR isn’t paying homage.
Better still, Max Max: Fury Road teems with well-drawn characters, each with sufficient unique attributes to be the hero in a lesser movie. Masterful.
So why only 9/10?
“Hold it,” I hear you say, “it’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi epic – why should the plot make sense?”
Listen. I adore the drummers and guitarists on the chasing war-rigs. I tolerate the incredibly inaccurate fire of the bad guys (reminiscent of the uselessness of the billions of Star-Wars stormtroopers) and the oddly selective mutations of the post-apocalyptic nuclear environment (more two-headed lizards, please).
But when (SKIP THIS AND FOLLOWING 2 PARAS IF YOU WANT TO AVOID A MILD PLOT SPOILER) the good guys who are fleeing the bad guys and have survived so far against ridiculously improbable odds decide to go back the way they’ve come – this time not out-running, but going straight into the teeth of the chaps who have been trying to catch them – it makes no sense.
Couldn’t they have given us a reason why the bad guys might not see them? After all, another weird strength of the film is a profusion of different models of wacky binocular-type equipment. A detour, a secret path, a tunnel, even night-time?
Instead they go strolling right past the bad guys (who conveniently have moved slightly out of the way) who then come after them again. We then have a virtual repeat of the endless war-rig-assault-fest of the first half of the movie – delivered with panache, except that, er, it’s a repeat.
In summary: a masterpiece, almost, if you like that kind of thing. Which I do.
For: a joyous, overwhelming tidal wave of spectacular, crazy, non-stop action.
Against: your ability to care about the outcome is undermined by a basic plot flaw.