Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Running time: 120 minutes

Director: George Miller

2015_mad_max_fury_road-wideIn 1985 the last installment in the Mad Max trilogy, Thunderdome, was released. But, though 30 years later, George Miller is sitting again in the director’s chair for the sequel, Mel Gibson is not. Taking his place as the face of the franchise is Tom Hardy. Sadly, Mad Max: Fury Road seems to be following the steps of last year’s Edge of Tomorrow. A great action movie that everyone loves, has huge word of mouth but for some reason, no-one goes to the cinema to watch. This and given how much the movie cost to make, makes very unlikely that the studio will greenlight a sequel, at least with the same budget.

In an apocalyptic future where all the landscape has become desert and water and gasoline are precious elements, the prisoner Max (Tom Hardy) finds himself tied to the front of a car as the “blood-bag” of Nux (Nicholas Hoult) when Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) discovers that Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) has gone rogue and has stolen something very dear to him and is planning to cross the harsh wasteland to return to her homeland.

maxresdefaultI am one of those weird people who never saw the Mad Max trilogy so I can’t say if this movie is better or how much justice does Tom Hardy do to the character that made Mel Gibson a star in 1979. I can only say, he was great. He doesn’t have much dialogue but he manages to portray a lot just through body language. And if it is funny to see Tom Hardy wearing again a mask and talking weird like in his iconic role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, as his companion Nux, we have Nicholas Hoult hiding once more behind a lot of make-up just as he did in the X-Men movies as Beast and in Warm Bodies.

As for the film and given the trailers, I was expecting a non-stop action movie and that is partly what Mad Max is, but I was delightfully surprise that it is also an homage to the power and independence of women. This is mainly because even though Max is the title character, and Tom Hardy is fantastic, this is really Furiosa’s movie and Charlize Theron, with the guide of George Miller, has given us one of the best action heroes in years. Furiosa’s ferocity and determination never overshadows her tenderness and it is great not only seeing women fighting together but also fighting for each other. The five wives could have easily been mere damsels in distress but each one played an active role in trying to regain their freedom, with fierceness and yes, also a lot of glamour.

FURY ROADBut the true star of Mad Max: Fury Road is actually behind the camera. George Miller, at 70 and after so many delays in the production of the film, has made a spectacle using mostly practical effects. The design of the world and the characters is so grotesque that it becomes in some twisted way quite beautiful.

Really, the best word to describe Mad Max is insane. The characters are crazy, the action is crazy, even the story in itself. The action is chaotic but unlike many other action movies (I’m looking at you, Michael Bay), you can always tell what is going on. This is a great advantage since the movie is basically a big relentless action sequence and therefore, doesn’t have too much character development or even plot. There is some narrative here and there when the action stops that comes across a bit cheap and feels too much like exposition. However, and even though other things could have had  more explanation, in the end Mad Max doesn’t really need any of that to be an exhilarating film.

8,5/10

Movie Review: The Expendables 3 (2014)

Title: The Expendables 3

Release date: August 15, 2014

Running time: 126 minutes

Director: Patrick Hughes

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Robert Davi, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Summary: Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. Stonebanks, who eluded death once before, now is making it his mission to end The Expendables — but Barney has other plans. Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

The-Expendables-3Apparently two weren’t enough… The Expendables 3, as the name says, is the third in the franchise and is obviously suffering at the box office, not being able to make it in the Top 3 in its opening weekend and going behind Let’s Be Cops. It could be discussed that this was due to the early leaked of the film in dvd quality a couple of weeks before it debuted in theaters, if only it was at least a decent movie. Which is not the case.

The first half is so slow and boring, looking for the young gang and introducing so many unnecessary characters, when the actual appeal of these movies relies in the chemistry between the aging stars that we love from their previous work in the 80s and 90s.

Stallone is again our lead and the only one that gets enough screen time. You can see that he tries to make it good and wants it to succeed but he doesn’t do anything that we haven’t seen him do before. The character doesn’t show enough motivation to drop the old crew and search for a new one and the whole thing feels a bit convenient. Mel Gibson was actually the most interesting to watch and the one that delivers a decent performance. He was a terrific villain, but the scene with the painting was so useless.

Harrison Ford, such a great actor and completely forgettable in this role. Crammer was just another famous face to throw in the mix and add to the poster. Snipes, good especially in the opening scene but fades away towards the end. Both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li should have had more prominent roles instead of wasting time in the new crew that doesn’t bring anything of the corny humour we want from these movies.

So, what’s the point of having a new younger crew? These actors, while they can have been good in their individual action movies, don’t have the nostalgic emotion to bring to these characters. Kellan Lutz was quite a nice surprise. Ronda Rousey had a couple of kick-ass moments but her acting skills were far from satisfactory.

This is why Antonio Banderas was a breath of fresh air. Annoying and at times even a bit embarrassing, he was the only one that came close to play an actual character instead of repeating what he has done in other films. He had some funny moments and was able to completely change the tone in a natural way in his exchange with Stallone.

In the end, this is not a good movie, but tries so hard to be that it’s actually quite sad. Pulling from all those popular action movies from the 80s and 90s and instead of doing a good story with convincing characters, the actors are all stuck playing caricatures of themselves. So much talent wasted.

2,5/10