Mad Max 4 almost wasn’t made. George Miller penned the idea for a fourth film in his high-adrenaline, dystopian franchise nearly 17 years ago, envisioning the plot line while crossing an LA intersection.
Through a series of financial and location setbacks, shooting was delayed periodically over the course of 11 years. Spanning the years through the events of 9/11, the Iraq war and due to the potentially politically sensitive nature of the film, it almost wasn’t realized. Speculation was finally silenced in October of 2009 when Miller announced that the film would begin filming in New South Wales two years later.
Tom Hardy was cast in the title role and subsequently Charlize Theron was announced as being cast to play some undisclosed pivotal role. After unexpected heavy rains in New South Wales led to an overgrowth of wildflowers not appropriate for the look they were going for in the film, shooting was moved to Namibia. Finally, filming began in July of 2012 in Namibia lasting a vigorous 120 days, not ceding until December of the same year. Some minor filming was also done in West Sydney and the original location of New South Wales in a different area, both in Australia.
Miller and his team went into the film without a script and instead a multitude of storyboards bridging 3,500 panels. He characterized the film as wanting it to be “a continuous chase, with relatively little dialogue” and with visuals always coming first. In Hitchcock manner, he wanted the film “to be able to be understood in Japan without the use of subtitles.”
A major feat of the film, and a true wonderment if you’ve had the opportunity to see it, was that, according to Miller, over 90% of the effects in the film were practical. Practical implies that they were done without the external use of computer imaging. They were primarily done in person and with the use of a very talented stunt team of over 150 people which included both Cirque du Soleil performers and Olympic athletes.
The effects in this film are unlike anything I have ever witnessed. They are incredibly complex designs and choreographed sequences overlapped on top of each other creating this beautifully ornate visual masterpiece. What the film lacks in content, makes up for in its utter visual intricacy. The film will certainly not go down in history as being a work of literary art, but the general bones of the story are there.
The plot surrounds the famed character of Mad Max who has been captured and is being used as a blood bag for war boys due to his universal blood donor status, in particular the sickly Nux (portrayed by Nicholas Holt.) The world is in shambles after a nuclear war has devastated entire civilizations, turning it into a desert wasteland. Imperator Furiosa, Charlize Theron’s character who has been criticized by many diehards for promoting feminist values in a male-drive film (are you kidding me?), is on a run for gasoline in her War Rig. She goes off course and the tyrannical cult leader Immortan Joe soon realizes she has taken with her his five wives that were specifically selected for breeding. One of which, portrayed by Rosie Huntington Whitely, happens to be pregnant.
The movie is the story of Joe’s chase after Furiosa and his wives. It is for the majority, about Furiosa and the girls, who look like they belong more on the Victoria’s Secret runway, and their tale of survival and redemption as they try to escape to the “Green Place.” Max and Nux are able to aid them along the way and their unlikely alliance is led on a wild goose chase across the blazing, barren desert.
Mad Max is not for the light of heart nor the easily distressed. There are in particular a few humorous aspects which round out the film’s gruesome tones, particularly encompassed in the fact that due to the lack of water, many of the citizens drink breastmilk. Also, to add a lighter tone to a few of the fight scenes, Miller added an electric fire-spewing guitarist whose music is amplified through a wall of high-performance Marshall amps to the entire convoy. The music in the film and high energy mood it creates, scored by Junkie XL, is a masterful composition.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who’s willing to appreciate the action, absurdity and utter genius that is Mad Max. It is not your average film nor is it like anything you’ve probably ever seen before but is both stimulating and incredibly enjoyable at the same time.
In true Nux fashion, “Oh what a day. What a lovely, lovely day!”
By: Emily Larman