CIT Casting Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

Mind-blowing action…

****CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS****

Summer is a time when anticipation builds in box offices around the globe: Who will hold the pristine title for “Mind-blowing Action-Thriller” or “Never-ending Excitement for the Whole Family?” For this one, leave the kids at home and run – don’t walk – to catch Mad Max: Fury Road.

The fourth film in George Miller’s creation was slow in starting, in that it took well over 12 years to even reach a point where all of his requirements (and there were many) were met so that the film could go forward with production. His vision was so precise that it was truly a miracle that it happened at all. Even after the films gathered a following of devoted fans, Miller never wanted to make another Mad Max after his third one starring Mel Gibson. Nevertheless one day the idea “popped into his head…and wouldn’t go away.” Thank goodness for fortitude.

Fury Road takes us into a World not far from the one we know now, just 45 years into the future, yet is depicted as darker and more horrific than we could ever imagine. In the midst of a post-apocalyptic war where civilians are deprived of necessary resources (the main being water), two rebels come together to fight against Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who meticulously controls the land. The film opens with our hero Max (Tom Hardy) struggling to free himself from slavery, and Furiosa (Charlize Theron), our one-armed and strikingly beautiful heroine. The delightfully badass Furiosa is bolting across the sweltering desert off-route, and we see she is carrying five women who Joe has made his own personal “breeders.” It’s a bit like watching an acid-tripped Prodigy video at 8,000 rpms. Max encounters Furiosa in the chase, and after an initial battle they realize their mutual regard for survival and form an alliance. Not only are they fighting against Joe, but his faithful followers as well, who believe that killing themselves for the good of the Immortal is the ultimate sacrifice. This flick is the epitome of action-packed thriller: it’s essentially one massively brilliant car chase.

Tom Hardy is a man of few words in his portrayal of Max. In fact, you could just about fit all of his dialogue into one tiny paragraph. He’s known for playing the strong, silent type in films like Lawless and The Dark Knight Rises. Yet even with this the depth in his characters are unparalleled. He can say volumes with one soulful look, and then some. There are glimpses of this all throughout the film, especially with his rather heartfelt interactions with Lux (Nicholas Hoult) and brief glances at one of the breeders, The Splendid Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). This is especially prominent when he sees the flashbacks of his daughter as he’s either in danger or attempting to save someone; it’s a look of sheer terror and despair. Tom Hardy is seemingly calm and collected but has this fire that gives him an unpredictable element of surprise.

There was also an enormous amount of trust between the director and the actors, because most of the filming was created in a Non-CGI world. Stunts were imagined and performed, sand storms were created out of thin air, and cars were flipped multiple times to create authenticity and that this ‘location’ in Namibia, Africa was an actual war zone. Over 90% of the effects were practical. With this being the case, the actors have to be incredibly tenacious and unyielding.

There are a couple professional models and a few fresh faces that were cast as the roles of the five wives: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton and Abbey Lee. They are all stunning and beauty of this caliber is essential to the film, because they are selected by Immortan Joe to be his precious breeders: the healthy genes that will carry on his legacy. Our first glimpse of the girls is when Max and Nux come upon them in the desert, wrapped in thin white cloth attire, hosing off. Yet through their beauty it is apparent that these girls have been through hell, tortured and used, and are desperate for an escape. Rosie Huntington-Whitetely shocked me…she can actually ACT. Throughout the film she has a pregnant belly, so she’s traipsing through a barren wasteland with a prosthetic stomach strapped to her (I’m sure no walk in the park). She proves to be fearless in her character and shows off a fight-for-survival spirit. Abbey Lee is equally as wonderful, playing more of an awkward punk chic with snow white hair. She also does a fantastic job of providing some much-needed comic relief. These girls are meant to have spent their entire lives together, so they worked with Eve Ensler (Author of The Vagina Monologues) in lengthy coaching sessions to form bonds quickly with each other.

Who can shave her head, lose an arm and be absolutely covered in gasoline and dust and still be breathtakingly gorgeous? Charlize Theron, that’s who. She carries that inner reptilian brain, those “need for survival” instincts and whips it out like a switchblade. She has these sparkling ocean eyes that make you feel like you are swimming underneath a current and your life could be taken by her at any moment. She truly is the main hero of the film, the brave warrior, with Max being more of a sidekick. Furiosa is trying to get back to “the green place”, the place she grew up before she was kidnapped as a child. Being the empathetic character that she is, she agrees to take the wives with her, having had enough of Joe’s cruelty towards them. With little to no dialogue she manages to portray all of the sadness that has been held within her since she was a little girl.

The music in Mad Max is a character in and of itself, carrying the chase, right down to the guitar playing warrior who slashes heavy metal tunes while posing as a flame thrower. Each beat, because it’s so incredibly action-packed, must tell a story, a bit about the character. Miller’s Fury Road is about expanding the Mad Max world, not necessarily about staying in any kind of chronological order. There are rumors about a new masterpiece, Furiosa, but let’s not count our chickens just yet.

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Jess