Mad Max: Fury Road

Warner Brothers

Rated R for disturbing images and relentless intense violence

Road Warrior Rises To The Occasion In Relentlessly-Harrowing Reboot Of Sci-Fi Franchise

Fury Road reboots the legendary Mad Max franchise which has been sitting dormant for several decades. This fourth installment was again produced, written and directed by Oscar winner George Miller (for Happy Feet) who tapped Tom Hardy to replace disgraced Mel Gibson in the title role as Max Rockatansky, the highway patrol officer-turned-intrepid road warrior given to dispensing a grisly brand of vigilante justice.

Set in 2060 AD, this post-apocalyptic adventure unfolds in the relentlessly-grim dystopia left in the wake of the series of global calamities that led to a total breakdown of civilization. At the point of departure, we find Max haunted by his tragic past and hunted by desperate scavengers as he drifts around the vast wasteland in a rusty, rattling, off-road muscle car.

The stoic gunslinger’s resolve to go it alone is soon tested when he crosses paths with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a fearless alpha female making a break across the desert with former sex slaves hidden in the hold of her big rig. She’s just freed the traumatized quintet from the clutches of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a ruthless tyrant who wants his breeders back, especially Splendid (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), since she’s already pregnant and possibly carrying his first male heir.

The enraged warlord has dispatched a caravan of bloodthirsty goons who will stop at nothing to retrieve his so-called “wives.” Fortunately, they’ve found a sympathetic soul in Max who agrees to join forces with Furiosa upon being apprised of their plight.

The plan is to drive non-stop across the desert to “The Green Place,” a Shangri-La rumored to be teeming with water, vegetation and other scarce natural resources. But getting there proves to be all the fun, as our intrepid hero and heroine negotiate a relentless gauntlet of evil adversaries in dune buggies outfitted with en route.

An edge-of-your-seat, adrenaline-fueled, high body-count splatterfest that remains riveting from start to finish despite dispensing with the idea of plot development once the premise has been set.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 120 minutes

 

 

Good Kill

IFC Films

Rated R for violence, rape, profanity and sexuality

Drone Warfare Takes Toll On Pilot In Afghan War Saga

Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) is a U.S. fighter pilot who was grudgingly grounded to fight the War on Terrorism via drone technology. The good news was that the reassignment meant his life would no longer be in jeopardy, since he’d now be stationed in New Mexico on a base located in the desert where he’d engaged the enemy 7,000 miles away from the theater of conflict. He was also guaranteed to see his wife, Molly (January Jones), and daughter, Jessie (Sachie Capitani), every day after work; and they no longer needed to worry about his safety.

Nevertheless, orchestrating remote attacks still took an unexpected toll on Tom, given the dispassionate fashion in which he was expected to bomb the Taliban and even accept the occasional killing of innocent civilians with friendly fire as mere collateral damage. Because he’s developed the proverbial 1,000-yard stare of a soldier who’s seen too much combat, Molly started accusing him of being emotionally distant.

His complaint to her that “I am a pilot; I am not flying,” only falls on deaf ears. He doesn’t like the fact that he has to wear a flight suit either. Consequently, he only finds solace in a bottle of alcohol, and in crying on the shoulder of his co-pilot, Vera Suarez (Zoe Kravitz). She’s just as disillusioned about the grisly business of dropping warheads on foreheads.

By comparison, their relatively-cavalier colleague, Danny (Michael Sheets), claims to be “Living the dream!” He’s the gung-ho type who doesn’t lose any sleep following orders from their immediate superior (Bruce Greenwood), despite the periodic presence of non-combatants in the kill zone. After all, he’s more concerned with providing critical support for the American boots on the ground.

Thus unfolds Good Kill, an Afghan War saga directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca). The purpose of this modern morality play is ostensibly to question the wisdom of the widespread use of military drones. In the end, it rather effectively drives home the point that there is no such thing as a surgical strike and that a soldier doesn’t have to be deployed overseas to develop PTSD.

The film features a number of noteworthy performances, especially those by Ethan Hawke, Zoe Kravitz, January Jones and Bruce Greenwood. In sum, a sobering, anti-war parable designed to remind the PlayStation Generation, desensitized to violence, of the grim consequences of joysticks haphazardly delivering deadly payloads.

 

Excellent (3.5 stars)

Running time: 102 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening May 15, 2015

 

Pitch Perfect 2 (PG-13 for profanity and sexual innuendo) Female empowerment sequel finds the humiliated a capella group, The Bellas, reuniting to restore their dignity in the World Championship competition. Ensemble includes Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Hailee Steinfeld, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and Katey Sagal.

 

Absolution (R for profanity, drug use and graphic violence) Steven Seagal stars in this action thriller as a contract killer who comes to the assistance of a woman (Adina Stetcu) on the run from a politically-connected mobster (Vinnie Jones). With Maria Bata, Byron Mann and Josh Barnett.

 

Childless (R for profanity, sexual references and drug use) Otherworldly dramedy about a recently-deceased teen (Natalie Dreyfuss) who tries to set the record straight from the grave after the adults in her life (Joe Mantegna, Barbara Hershey, Diane Verona and James Naughton) start reciting self-serving accounts of the family dynamic. Cast includes Jordan Baker, Scott F. Anderson and Trevor Trout.

 

Dark Star (Unrated) Reverential biopic about H.R. Giger (1940-2014), the Oscar-winning special f/x wiz best known for his work in the Alien and Species film franchises. (In Swiss German with subtitles)

 

Every Secret Thing (R for profanity and disturbing images) Adaptation of Laura Lippman’s novel of the same name starring Elizabeth Banks and Nate Parker as detectives playing a game of cat-and-mouse with a couple of recently-paroled child killers (Dakota Fanning and Danielle Macdonald) and one’s overprotective mother (Diane Lane). With Colin Donnell, Common, Amy Tribbey and Jaden Michael.

 

Forbidden Films (Unrated) Holocaust documentary analyzing 40 Nazi movies still banned because of their offensive and inflammatory content, including such anti-Semitic pictures as The Eternal Jew, The Rothchilds and Jew Suss. (In German with subtitles)

 

I’ll See You In My Dreams (PG-13 for sexuality, drug use and brief profanity) Romantic dramedy revolving around a retired widow in her 70s (Blythe Danner) who gets another shot at love when she meets a velvet-voiced gentleman (Sam Elliott) at a speed-dating event. Support cast includes Martin Starr, Rhea Perlman, June Squibb, Malin Akerman and Mary Kay Place.

 

Know How (Unrated) Musical-driven drama relating the real-life plight of five teens being raised in the NYC foster care system. Co-starring Deshawn Brown, Niquana Clark, Michael Dew, Gilbert Howard and Gabrielle Garcia.

 

One Cut, One Life (Unrated) Veteran filmmaker Ed Pincus (1938-2013), considered the “Father of the Personal Documentary,” turned the camera on himself to shoot this biopic after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Featuring appearances by Paul Giamatti and relatives Jane and Ruth Pincus.

 

Our Man In Tehran (Unrated) Iran Revolution documentary chronicling the critical role played by Canada’s Ambassador Ken Taylor in the rescue of a half-dozen Americans who took refuge in his nation’s embassy during the 1979 hostage crisis.

 

The Surface (Unrated) Seafaring saga about a pilot (Chris Mulkey) and sailor’s (Sean Astin) struggle to survive after a boat collides with the wreckage of single engine plane floating in the middle of Lake Michigan. With Mimi Rogers, Chike Johnson and Elvis Thao.

 

Where Hope Grows (PG-13 for brief profanity, an accident scene, mature themes, teen sexuality and underage drinking) Tale of redemption about a self-destructive, former pro football player (Kristoffer Polaha) who gets a big lesson in life after befriending a grocery store clerk (David DeSanctis) with Down Syndrome. Supporting cast includes Danica McKellar, William Zabka and Kerr Smith.

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