How in the hell did I not realize this was written by Alex Garland?! And apparently, if the rumors are true, he more or less directed it too, once Pete Travis was forced out in post-production. In any event, this was wildly fun, wickedly violent and funnier than I was expecting. I never read the source material, but from most accounts, it seems to be the version hardcore fans had been hoping for all along. I appreciated the very brisk pace and take-no-prisoners attitude, as it is a batshit crazy ride from the opening scene.
Garland’s script is irreverent, and what it lacks in surprises it makes up for in sheer fun. A world like Mega-City One may not be a totally new one, but it’s presented in a refreshing way with bright, flashing colors and villains that seem to match that tone in both attitude and execution.
Karl Urban is fantastic in the title role, coming to life even underneath a helmet that covers everything but his damning sneer, worn constantly and amusingly. He seems to be having as much fun killing an endless army of nameless henchmen as we are watching him do it, and it’s a huge change of pace for those of us used to seeing him in the Star Trek franchise. Lena Headey owns her role as Ma-Ma, reveling in the psychotic ruthlessness that makes Cersei Lannister so evil, but with the volume turned up and the subtlety eradicated.
One of the most impressive aspects of the film by far is the visual effects. The movie is pure spectacle, and as such, the effects are spectacular, especially when the characters are under the effects of the drug Slo-Mo. For something rooted in B-movie sensibilities, there are some top notch, A-level moments from a visual standpoint. Perhaps someone forgot to tell the creative team they weren’t supposed to make something look this cool.
Overall, this was a riot of a bloodbath and I, like many others, hope to see more from the franchise, so long as they can keep the same sense of execution.