I had never heard of a director by the name of George Miller or the movies he is associated with. Well, that is embarrassing to say the least. Maybe if I was a teenager, I would have been harboring suicidal thoughts and fighting them off on a day to day basis! Because I am someone that follows noteworthy directors and their body of work. How did I miss getting to know Miller through his work?
A quick glance at Miller’s Wikipedia page (what would we do without Wikipedia?) revealed that he directed the Babe and the Happy Feet franchise. He is also the producer of a movie named The Chain Reaction and directed the car chase sequence (uncredited) in the movie.
Now, I know why the director of that movie, Ian Berry, entrusted Miller with the chase sequence – there’s nobody else, living or dead, who can shoot a chase sequence better than George Miller! And this is no hyperbole.
I had read a couple of great reviews on the movie but didn’t know what to expect. The reason being, I had no idea who Max Rockatansky was. My knowledge of the character was zero. That coupled with very less expectation must have been the reasons that helped me enjoy this strictly genre movie. Now, I am not a huge fan of movies in the action genre. I often find them predictable and consistently boring. I absolutely hate those ‘summer blockbusters’ meted out to the public across the globe by those American studios with deep pockets and a hyperactive marketing machinery.
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a movie that put a little bit of faith back in the action genre and emboldened me to take that step – watch Mad Max: Fury Road in 3D. The experience was exhilarating. Though the movie looks like a huge chase from start to finish, it isn’t just about that. It handles in a subtle away a lot of themes including liberating women whose raison d’etre is procreation. By subtle, I mean George Miller never resorts to ‘look-how-clever-am-I’ scenes in the movie’s entirety.
From the first scene, we know that it is a different world out there (well, what can we expect post-apocalypse?). There’s desert, desert and more desert. In lesser hands, this would have been a 2-hour torture in the extreme. Miller creates a world where people suffer because of absolute apathy on the part of those who lead. Those who make a profit out of misery. A parallel would be those kingpins using people with disabilities and other misfortune including poverty to make money.
It’s only when I got out of the theater that I gathered these thoughts on the movie. And that’s a good sign. You will be sucked into the movie from the very first scene. And you can’t afford to take your eyes off the screen for a moment. There are these talkie portions where you know it’s just the calm before the storm and action is going to explode anytime from now!
Perhaps the last movie that impressed me with just chase from almost start to finish was Steven Spielberg’s Duel. George Miller directed the last Mad Max franchise in 1985. He was 40 when he directed that one. Fury Road is released exactly after 30 years, so he’s 70 now. I don’t know how many 40-year-olds can make a movie with this kind of kinetic energy and thrilling action today.
For me, there weren’t many recognizable faces in Fury Road expect Tom Hardy who I had seen in the stylish Bronson by Nicolas Winding Refn. He was catapulted to fame by playing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Charlize Theron has most of the emotional scenes in the movie and she is superb in the action scenes too. Not many high-profile models would have taken the role Rosie Huntington-Whiteley had taken in Fury Road. She will go places with this role in her resume. 🙂
Maybe this is George Miller’s way of showing his middle finger to the movies they call summer blockbusters. Because Mad Max: Fury Road is pure poetry and exhilaration ‘in motion’ from start to finish!