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Disproportionate Worth
by Richard Jack Smith

In my review of George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, I praised the film's technical achievements and performances. For Kyle Buchanan's Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max Fury Road, there are 400 pages covering the film's production... but that's not all. Claims by the cast and crew that Miller pulled off "a masterpiece" and "the best action movie of all time" made my eyes roll in disbelief. As of this writing, the film has only been part of the cultural landscape for seven years. No new picture, great or small, can be labelled in such a way. Why? Because a masterpiece must pass the ultimate durability test: time itself. Who's to say that another ambitious filmmaker won't surpass Miller's blockbuster? I'd argue it's already happened. Look no further than John Wick and its sequels. That's for another article.

Failure on at least one level humbles the creative force. Consider Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. The latter tanked at the box office, it was critically disparaged and there was little love from the Academy Awards. By contrast, Mad Max: Fury Road met with universal acclaim upon release. The path to greatness should be rockier than this.

At the end of chapter fifteen, actor Tom Hardy argues that co-star Charlize Theron created "the finest lead character in an action movie." A dubious claim which ignores seminal work from the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Angelina Jolie, Zoe Saldana and Linda Hamilton. Hardy's comment gave me pause because it's too easy to declare a new thing as definitive. It plugs into the short term part of the zeitgeist. For my money, a flash in the pan loses its novelty very quickly. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Miller's film only I cannot and will not regard it as a masterpiece. That's beyond hyperbole.

For all the emphasis on storyboards, Buchanan doesn't include a single frame. This oversight weakens the presentation. If the boards truly reflected Miller's vision, it might support some of the more grandiose statements. Adding to which, the plot behind Mad Max: Fury Road comes across as simplistic and less than original. It doesn't boast the fascination or wisdom of Jan de Bont's Speed. The latter remains my favourite action movie. 

Overall, the narrative being spun throughout Blood, Sweat & Chrome didn't sit well with me. Indeed, Buchanan's fan boy dissertation simply decreases the film's value. It pays to be more humble.

I give Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan... 1 out of 5 stars.

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