Mad Max: Fury Road lives up to its hype in every way and is simply stated the best action movie you’ll see this year. Period.
There. You can stop reading now. Or go on and keep reading but I’ll still keep this short and sweet.
It’s been 30 years since Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. And as we all know Fury Road isn’t a reboot; it’s a continuation. But in as much any sequel can be worth a wait this long it is worth it. Truly, this is like the fullest culmination of the vision that George Miller began in 1979’s Mad Max and more especially in 1981’s The Road Warrior, only now he has the modern cinematic technology, the budget, and double the size of his previous audience (i.e. those who grew up watching the original trilogy and the younger generation that discovered it through video). This is essentially B-movie material that has been take to its ultimate potential and beyond, breaking through the creative stratosphere and reaching operatic heights.
Is your favorite part of The Road Warrior the climactic chase sequence? Well, then, you’re in luck because Fury Road may be the first movie in history to essentially be one long, two-hour chase scene. Even just the audacity of that tickles me silly. It’s as if George Miller was acutely aware of all the things about this franchise that fans love and has distilled those things into a concentrated essence, turning up the notch of intensity to the nth degree.
You might think this sounds like a bit much and normally I’d agree, theoretically. But somehow Miller and team have infused a heart and soul into this beast. It’s as if you were to take a Jerry Bruckheimer movie and endow it with real feeling. And like Bruckheimer movies Fury Road will pummel your senses and render you senseless. But unlike Bruckheimer movies you’ll love every minute of it. But exactly how Miller and team have done it is a mystery because the movie, on its surface, is exceedingly simple. Like all the Mad Max movies, it doesn’t exactly have much in the way of what you’d consider a plot. The characters aren’t exactly deep or layered. So, really, how did they do it? Good magicians never reveals their secrets.
As visionary as Miller is, it’s clear Fury Road could not be what it is without the brilliant team behind his back. Miler’s wife, Margaret Sixel, plays a role here that is perhaps almost just as important, taking a movie with more cuts than any other in recent memory and meticulously piecing it together to near perfection. And despite the frenetic pace, the cuts don’t feel excessive or MTV-ish. They feel exactly necessary to what’s occurring in the action.
Then there’s production designer Colin Gibson who has brought to life the nightmarish, post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max more vividly than it has ever been. We also musn’t neglect Tom Holkenborg’s (aka Junkie XL) superb soundtrack which is one of my favorites from a sci-fi film since Daft Punk’s excellent work on the Tron: Legacy soundtrack—I guess it’s a good idea to hire DJs and electronica artists to do orchestral scores. Even without an involved plot or characterization, it is Holkenborg’s music here that fills in some of the blanks for us and makes us feel emotionally invested in the action.
Finally, the cast of Fury Road do an stellar job taking what are essentially two-dimensional characters and pumping them full of blood and life. Tom Hardy’s a fine Max but it’s really Charlize Theron as Furiosa and Nicholas Hoult as Nux who steal the show here.
As for the much ballyhooed feminist themes, personally I thought they were handled well if a bit heavy-handed at times. My basic take on the matter is this: if the feminism in the movie appeals to you, celebrate it. If it doesn’t, just overlook it and enjoy the action. No need to overcomplicate it or get into vicious arguments over it. The movie is good. That’s what counts.
So all in all: is this a 5-star review? Bloody hell it is.