Do You Realise Mad Max: Fury Road Is A Miracle?

Do You Realise Mad Max: Fury Road Is A Miracle?

I'm serious. Mad Max: Fury Road should not exist. It should never have gotten made. It certainly shouldn't be as awesome as it is. And yet somehow, against all odds, this impossible cinematic masterpiece was one of the most successful movies of last year, in defiance of reality itself.

Obviously, the fact that Hollywood decided to make a new Mad Max film 30 years after the last movie came out isn't that exceptional. If there's a franchise that anyone has nostalgia for — or at least awareness of — there's a decent chance that Hollywood will make another in hopes of cashing in. Generally, these tend to be remakes or reboots, so the first miracle is that Fury Road isn't a needless reboot, but a new chapter in the Mad Max saga. I can't imagine how much Hollywood execs wanted to remake The Road Warrior, or give a new origin story for Tom Hardy's turn as Max. I don't know how director George Miller managed to convince the studio that modern audiences didn't need to be coddled.

Actually, I don't know how Miller was hired to direct the movie at all. Yes, Miller was the creator, writer and director of all three Mad Max movies, but when has Hollywood ever shown a creator loyalty? That's not a studio executive's job. Their job is to make as much money as possible, and given Miller's track record, there's no way he should have been hired, creator or not.

Do you know what Miller was doing before he returned to Mad Max? In the last 20 years, he has only directed three other movies: Happy Feet, a CG cartoon about a bunch of dancing penguins, Happy Feet Two, and Babe: Pig in the City. Three movies not just for kids, but for little kids. Movies that contain no action to speak of, no violence, and nothing in common with Fury Road. He literally hadn't made an action flick since Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985, and it wasn't even a very good movie! Yes, Miller was tapped to direct a Justice League movie several years ago, but that fell apart, and no one gets to put "almost" on their resume.

Do You Realise Mad Max: Fury Road Is A Miracle?

Look, I know it makes sense to normal people that you would only let the creator of Mad Max make a new Mad Max movie, but Hollywood studio executives are not normal people. They're cocaine-addled lunatics who are terrified at the idea of losing potential box office revenue. From that viewpoint, hiring Miller is a legitimately risky decision. He's woefully out of practice, his last action film was mediocre anyways, he's 70 years old… there's no reason to suspect he could make a summer blockbuster, let alone a modern summer blockbuster, let along a goddamned action movie masterpiece. There are plenty of other movie directors out there who, while they may make crappy movies, still make movies that almost always make money. As nightmarish as it is to consider, from a studio exec's point of view, it would have been more fiscally responsible to give Fury Road over to a Brett Ratner or a Len Wiseman or one of their ilk.

But not only was Miller hired, he was given a massive $US150 ($209) million budget and, more insanely, he seemingly also had complete creative control. You know who gets that deal? Practically no one. Maybe guys like Chris Nolan, who have churned out enough summer blockbusters over the years that the studio doesn't feel the need to second-guess their every decision.

The reason I know that Miller must have had almost total control over the movie is because he was allowed to make decisions no studio executive would have or should have allowed, no matter how much cocaine he/she was on. Here five things I can't believe Miller was allowed to do:

• Have Max be the sidekick in his own film.

• Hire Nicholas Hoult, one of Hollywood's youngest, most attractive stars, then shave his head, paint him bone white, and have him play a character with disgusting chapped lips for the entire movie.

• Get rid of Max's iconic car in the first few minutes of the flick.

• Ignore conventional action movie structure in order to present one giant, two-hour long car chase.

• Give the main villain a name that will confuse every one all the time, because they assume there's been some kind of error and the character's real name must be "Immortal Joe."

These are all reasons the film is awesome, but they're also not things the studio should have allowed. These aren't safe decisions. But then again, there's nothing safe about Fury Road.

Do You Realise Mad Max: Fury Road Is A Miracle?

Was Miller blackmailing the president of Warner Bros. or something? Did he find a genie? Because those are the only two reasonable solutions for why Fury Road got made now, which, by the way, is yet another miracle. Reportedly, Miller has been working on Fury Road since 1998 and very nearly got it made on several occasions. At first Mel Gibson was going to reprise the role of Max, which would have been a disaster, because Gibson is an anti-Semitic loon. Then it was going to be a a 3D CG animated movie, which probably would have been lame and looked terrible, and even if it was good wouldn't have been nearly as good as the movie we eventually got.

Ignoring the fact that most films that languish that long in development hell never, ever, ever get made anyways, so many random things had to happen to prevent us from getting an earlier, crappier version of Fury Road. The movie had to be thwarted, over and over again, for nearly 20 years so we could get this version of Fury Road — so Miller would have this specific idea, so the studio would give him that much money, that for god knows what reason the executives didn't interfere with Miller's vision, and that Gibson wasn't involved.

So I'll say it again — Mad Max: Fury Road shouldn't exist. It shouldn't have been possible. It certainly wasn't plausible. Hollywood executives are paid to prevent this sort of potential disaster from ever happening. And yet somehow, one 70-year-old man who had been stuck directing children's movies for two decades took a somewhat beloved franchise from the '80s and not only made one of the most badass movies of all time, but also created a legitimate masterpiece of the action genre.

If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is.


    After watching the 'making of' it is absolutely astounding that it got made. I honestly don't think anyone else could have made, or had the insane balls to make it the way it was done.

    Wrong movie. You're thinking of the Kurt Russell hockey movie.

    hey! in 1998 Mel Gibson was Extremely well loved, it wasnt until around 2005-2006 that he went off the deep end.

      Yup. And him being a nutter doesn't actually destroy his incredible acting performances.

      Same with Tom Cruise, probably minus the word "incredible".

        Except Collateral, the one with Jamie Foxx. I thought that was a t least a great performance.

          And Magnolia. It was only really a long cameo but he was one of the highlights of the movie. Not bad in A Few Good Men, Edge of Tomorrow or War of the Worlds either.

            Edge of Tomorrow, War of the Worlds, Collateral... Tom Cruise seems to do best when he plays what he knows: kinda arrogant, self-centered jerks. :)

    Hmm...maybe I should watch Fury Road then

    I must be the only one that thought Tom Hardy's performance was pretty bland - Leo did a much better performance showcasing his array of acting ability during scenes of quiet reflection or scenes where emotion needed to be conveyed without words.
    Charlize Theron's performance made that movie - Her role was brilliant for the emotion needed as the leading lady.

      I wasn't all that impressed with Tom Hardy either, but everyone else more than made up for it.

        Yeah fantastic casting overall really - I'm not saying his performance was bad, just not as strong as others in the film.
        Maybe a fresh viewing tonight will soften my view.

          If you've seen all 4 movies you'll understand a bit more about Max.

          Max no longer has any emotion. It's been burned out of him by events in his past. The landscape he travels through in the film reflects the internal status of his emotional state. The dry, parched, barren state of the landscape reflects the dry, parched, barren state of his soul.

          Max IS the Wasteland.

      I was a bit miffed that he was turned into a sidekick, but after my fourth viewing, I decided he was pretty much perfect.

        The only person I could see doing the role better is Heath ledger like was originally planned...

        but yeah.... well.... you know.... that ain't happening now.

    Am I the only one in the world that didn't actually like this film?

      Apparently. I didn't like some of his editing choices, and I was sad about the absence of Aussies as principal players, but I still thought it was pretty great.

      What specifically did you have issues with?

        Nah no issues I just didn't enjoy it as much as the rest of the world obviously. I mean I'm no movie critique by any stretch I just felt like for the 2 hours or so I just felt MEH, just couldn't get into it. That being said I am the kind of person that absolutely loved Deadpool lol.

          Nothing wrong with loving Deadpool. Max just ain't your cup o guzzoline.

      I didn't dislike it, but nor do I regard it as some kind of masterpiece that I'll be rewatching for years and decades to come, either.

      It's basically a 2 hour car chase. A cool car chase, but still just a car chase.

      I didn't care for it at all. I really don't see why people heap so much praise on it.

        Because people are entitled to their own opinions, and yours is likely to never be perfectly alligned with everyone else's.

        My personal thoughts:

        It's visually arresting - the look and feel of the film is very deliberate and carefully crafted. They could have used any number of filters, lenses or rigs, but the ones they chose gave the film a grand and immense sense of scale.

        Speaking of scale, it's way over the top, but still relatable. From crazy war boys to milk mothers to weird bird people, it's nuts. But it's such a richly crafted world of nuts.

        But despite being set in a completely bonkers world, the story it tells of max and Furiosa and the wives is completely relatable and understandable. So while on the surface it's just a car chase, it's also an escape movie, it's also a fight movie, it's also a parable.

        Compare that to, I dunno, Jupiter Ascending and the care and craftmanship that it took to make Fury Road becomes even more evident. Both films try to be visually captivating, crazy action movies with interesting stories, but only Fury Road succeeds.

        But that's just my 2c.

          And I don't necessarily disagree with those points. I just thought as a film it was boring, visual noise with little substance. A lot of people disagree with that and love the movie though, and good for them.
          Not saying i'm wirte and they are wrong though.

            I thought this too. I kept telling people I dislike action films, because of their predictable scripts and wafer thin plot; they kept telling me "no this one is really good". So I watched it on Stan today and I just don't understand what people are talking about. The story sounds interesting enough but it's overshadowed by endless action. It seems like it's going to do something different but then refuses to take any real chances (such as character deaths that matter when they really should have happened) or an ending that is anything other than totally happy and resolved.

            The film looks expensive, sometimes, but there are really weird flashbacks and "horror" elements that look like crappily made student films or weird superimposed shots with bad CGI.

            You're right about it being visual noise, like films like Avengers before it (I tried to watch Age Of Ultron the other day, jesus christ that is a terrible film). I don't understand how people can walk away from a film that was essentially explosions broken up by some average dialogue and say it's the greatest thing ever.

            This is just a gross looking film, between the mutilated people and the arid, rusted aesthetic, it's well done, but it's just awful to look at. If you try your hardest making something look successfully disgusting, it's unfortunately still disgusting.

              Yeah, It's not that I even dislike action films. I like them. I just thought MM:FR was a bad movie.

              The other argument people use is that MM:FR tells so much story without much dialogue. The reality is though, it doesn't. It has practically no story. It fails on that account more than any of the countless silent movies of the 1920's and 30's.

              The other aspect is the 'world building' costumes etc. Which is... nice. The costumes are nice. The world building... is.. there? not like other movies haven't done the same thing, or better.

              I went into it wihtout all the hyperbolic language people throw around (honestly, it's called a miracle in this article....) and I still turned it off halfway and went, that was a waste of time. That was after REALLY trying to like the movie during the first half.

              I think MM:FR is all style and very little substance.

      I dont quite understand all the love for this movie either. The production quality was clearly better with a decent budget behind it, but that didnt stop it from being hollow and boring imho.

        This is how I felt. After the movie ended both my wife and I looked at each other and wondered how the hell was everyone raving about this movie. We didn't go see it at the cinema either so maybe that's what we did wrong lol.

      No but you certainly won't be the last to let everyone know right?

      I didn't really like it either. The action scenes were cool and the effects were spectacular but the plot and the characters did not gel with me. I found a lot of parts of the movie just weird and it broke my suspension of disbelief a few times.

      I'm honestly surprised it rated as highly as it did, but then again, I'm also surprised that Prometheus and The Hunger Games are as well regarded as they are. I think Mad Max was a better movie than those two though at any rate. If I were going to give it a score I'd probably give it a 60%. As in I enjoyed about 60% of the movie.

      Last edited 05/03/16 10:50 am

    I love Rob Bricken. Gave up on Topless Robot when he moved to IO9. Looking forward to his anger-laden, spoiler-ific analysis of Batman v Superman.

    Usually things that spend that long in development hell (John Carter, Duke Nukem Forever) end up a horrible mish-mash of ideas and styles and just end up being boring.

    At first Mel Gibson was going to reprise the role of Max, which would have been a disaster, because Gibson is an anti-Semitic loon.

    I'm not sure how that's relevant? How does somebody's personal / political beliefs, no matter how distasteful others may find them, in any way affect their ability to do a particular job? When did he become an anti-semitic loon? He may well have been all along, even as far back as when he was making the original Mad Max, but nobody cared because nobody knew until years later when he got drunk and made it public.

      Mel was at his high of Catholic Douche Baggery when during Mad Max as he was also an Alcholic back then as well, it was when he got married and had kids that he cleaned himself up (around the time of the lethal weapon series) And from then on apart from the odd anti english accusation around brave heart and more so with the Patriot, he was universally loved throught out the late 80s to until the mid 00 when he got divorced and got back on to the hooch which then lead to his massive antisemtic outbursts at the california jewish copper. Incidently this occured after his filming of the Passion of the Christ, which painted the jews in a bigger negative light than the actual Romans

    Given George Miller runs the studio that owns the Mad Max franchise, it isn't that surprising he got to direct it. It seems like a good example of the upsides of creators retaining ownership of their work.

      Exactly! I mean of course the guy who created, owns and directed the series got to direct it again. It isn't a Hollywood film it is an Australian film by an Australian doctor who paid the cast and crew in beer when filming the original, hardly the stuff of Hollywood.

    Brothers in Arms from the Mad Max OST perfectly encapsulates the film's majesty and madness:

    I thought Tom Hardy did a fine job. Max is supposed to be broken and not brimming with personality, I think he did ok.

    However, if the film had got made earlier, it would have had Heath Ledger, and I'm sad to think of what he might have done with the role but now can't.

      I think he did okay, I just think everyone else did better.

    I thought I was having a massive deja vu moment, because I could have sworn I read this exact article months ago. Turns out I read it on io9 a while back - Good article, really covers how remarkable this movie is.

    My fave production tale. Miller had decided to add the guys on the poles using cgi as he thought it was too risky. He's having coffee one morning and looks up to see the stunt crew all up on the poles swinging about. Job done. Awsome

    Have Max be the sidekick in his own film.

    To be fair, this is pretty much the same thing in Max 2 & 3 - he may have been more front and centre, but he was still just some reluctant assistance to those whose dilemma made up the whole plot.

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