Mark Whelan Best of the Decade

The Best Films of the The Decade: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Of The Decade Mad Max Fury Road (2015)

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After thirty years is it possible to meet expectations, let alone exceed them?
Truth be told
, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome { 1985) warranted no sequel. Though
arguably the weakest of the trilogy
, especially shadowing Mad Max 2 ( 1981 ) or The
Road Warrior as it’s titled in the statesa film often heralded as one of the greatest
action films of all time, it was
a surprisingly heartfelt and bittersweet sendoff to an iconic
(anti
)hero.
In 1985 Mel Gibson was on the cusp of international recognition and, though it was a
role that aided in his celebrity, his lack of investment in the part was obvious on screen. It
didn’t help that the series’ creator
, George Miller, had also lost interest midway through
Thunderdomes production ( his collaborator and friend Byron Kennedy, of which the film
is dedicated
, died in a tragic helicopter accident) and co-directed only the more “kinetic
elements of the film.
Despite its lulls, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was a fitting end to an
unforgettable series
. And given the excessive amount of influence, emulation, and blatant
rip-offs that Miller’s post
apocalyptic saga gave us over the decades (Waterworld (1994)
anyone?) perhaps it‘s just as well that Max Rockatansky wander aimlessly into the fiery
sunset as he did
at that films climactic conclusion.
Several cherished franchises sought rebirth (or continuation ) after a lengthy hiatus. Star
Wars is probably one of the more noteworthy endeavors, certainly the most imposing, but
scarcely comes close to
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) which not only validates its
predecessors but reinvents it
.
When George Miller introduced us to the unforgiving world of Max Rockatansky in
1979’s
Mad Max, he established a direful and unblinking worldview: a planet ravaged by
the destruction of atomic weapons and failed leadership
, and the ordinary people therein
who desperately attempted to maintain some semblance of order
.
Top tier production and visual effects are enough to invite our attention, but it takes a
central character
(or in this case, two) to seal the deal and thoroughly involve us. Mel
Gibson perfectly embodied the wounded soul of
a former police officertumedvigilante,
and it was his onscreen charisma that allowed us to believe
.
Which leads me to Tom Hardv and Charlize Theron.
A gifted actor such as Hardy is more than capable of disappearing into the role that
Gibson implanted, and he makes the most of it. Terse, commanding, and silenta man of
action and few words
Hardy effortlessly refurbishes the character of Max into his own.
But if Hardy is the heart of the film, then its soul belongs entirely to Theron who
delivers one of the finest performances of her career
. Every bit the Yin to his Yang, the
magnetism emanating from this onscreen odd-couple
runs the gamut from the subtlest of
facial expressions to their
most visceral actions.
Mad Max: Fury Road is high-octane entertainment at its most thrilling. In a decade
with no shortage of action films
, it is a framework for any nonstop whiteknuckle
spectacle to follow
.
Oh, what a lovely day,” indeed...

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