Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Road Warrior

I just posted a review of Mad Max: Fury Road.  I gave it a well-deserved A and I can't recommend it highly enough.  However, I do want to address two things.  I've heard a lot of people claiming that Fury Road is the best picture in George Miller's merrily insane post-apocalyptic series of movies and I've also heard people say that Tom Hardy makes for a better Max than Mel Gibson did. 

First off, the latest venture is surely the most energetic and the most violent film of the bunch, and it is truly a top-notch action flick.  However, in my humble opinion it isn't as good of a movie as The Road Warrior.  That 1981 gem is in my Top 10 and could actually be in my Top 5, and it has a bit more drama in the mix to go along with all the carnage.  It may not be nearly as spectacular, but I think it's a bit more fulfilling. 

Secondly, Tom Hardy is awesome and he did a great job as Max--but he isn't Mel.  Mel owned that part in a way that few performers own any role, and while I do think that Hardy was fantastic, he didn't quite match Mel's greatness.  In fairness, I think he did the best job that he could have possibly done, but the part wasn't as rich or as complex in Fury Road.  This new take on Max was also a bit more sympathetic.  For some reason, I've always felt that one of the most intriguing aspects of Mel's legendary work as the character in The Road Warrior was the fact that he is compelling in spite of the fact that he's a bit of a dick.  If you don't believe me, just ask the Gyro Captain.  Seriously, right up until the closing reel, there isn't a lot to like about Max, but we know his history and we understand that he's a product of his environment, so we root for him in spite of his icy demeanor. 

In short, I had a blast with Mad Max: Fury Road and I thought Tom Hardy rocked as Max.  It was a terrific action movie and if you haven't seen it yet, you need to remedy that.  Yet it wasn't as potent as The Road Warrior, which is not merely a great action movie, but a great movie in general.  And while Hardy rocked it, Mel was better.

Tom Hardy played the part well, but . . .
Mel Gibson is Mad Max.

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