‘My name is max. My world is blood and fire.’
With these nine words we are inducted into the world of Mad Max. And what a truly and gloriously awful world that is. In a world where there is so little to live for – what little you have, you will fight to the death for.
This film, like its protagonist, is fulled by adrenaline. Like the world it shows us, there are very few pauses or respites from the high octane pace. There is little information provided as to why the world has been destroyed. Small snippets of information indicate that the fight over oil became a literal fight which resulted in the desolate landscape we are plunged into. Context is sacrificed to immerse the audience into the battle, no-one really knows why they are fighting or what they are fighting for – except to stay alive.
Tom Hardy as Max is excellent. He may utter few words but his physical prescence – his mannerisms and incredibly expressive reactions – create a character we feel like we know. Even though we really don’t. He is Max. And it is uncertain whether he is broken, or everyone else is. His madness is not a hiderance, but perhaps his greatest ally. In times of utter peril; it is what keeps him alive.
However, the star of the show may in fact be Charlize Theron. One would be hard pressed to select a female character from an action movie who is so well develope. Far from being a weak damsel in distress, she is the closest Max has to an equal. Theron is incredibly watchable in this role, creating a character who is suprisingly sympathetic for someone we scarelecy know. What we do know is simple – she has stolen Ultimate Joe’s greatest possessions. As we know from a short sequence that Joe is a grotesque and probably evil dictator. We want her, aided by Max to succeed. However unlikely that, frequently, seems.
All of this would not be possible, or nearly as memorable at least, without the combination of the holy trinity that is mise-en-scene, editing and cinematography. The composition of this film is truly incomparable. It is akin to watching a comic book – immersive and dominating visually – we are reliant only on what we can see. We are told so little that we must piece together what each frame may have to offer: mirroring how the characters grasp for every resource we take for granted in our society. There is no voiceover throughout the film to comfort us, inform us or nurse us. Like the characters it introduces then abandons, we spend the entire film adrift – devouring each morsel it bestows upon us.
Dystopian vouyerism has never been this pleasurable to watch. A big screen must see!