Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros.)
A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in post-apocalyptic Australia in search for her home-land with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshipper, and a drifter named Max.
Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult. Directed by George Miller. Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris. Produced by Doug Mitchell, George Miller & P.J. Voeten.
Right off the top: one of the most intense action movies I’ve seen in a long, long time! Mad Max: Fury Road is nearly two hours of nonstop, high-intensity action with momentary pauses to let the audience catch its breath. Rather than winding up to a crescendo of action, Fury Road is like being shot out of a cannon. In fact, the movie begins with a 30-minute, nonstop action sequence through the deserts in Australia that is thrilling, breathtaking and positively entertaining.
Director George Miller’s Fury Road is, in many ways, an homage to the original. Not surprising, since he wrote and directed the original Mad Max series with Mel Gibson. Fury Road stays true to the weird and stylistic post-apocalyptic world he created more than 35 years ago. However, he stands this world on its head and added villains such as the evil Immortan Joe who rules over his slaves at The Citadel with impunity. Joe is a cross between Skeletor and Gene Simmons. He’s a soulless monster loved and feared by his army of war boys who would prefer to die for Joe’s cause without regard for their own lives (daddy issues, much?)
Unlike the original Mad Max series, Fury Road’s protagonist and storyline that are decidedly feminine. Realistically, this film should’ve been called Furiosa: Fury Road, after the badass, one-armed, female lead, portrayed by Charlize Theron. Imperator Furiosa, Immortan’s favorite warrior, has plans of her own in Fury Road and sets off a chain of events with her war rig that will forever change this world of dust, marauders and guzzoline. Sure, Max is there, but he’s mostly along for the ride, as Furiosa is calling all the shots.
Tom Hardy steps into the role of Max, a drifter who’s taken prisoner by Immortan Jack. Hardy is formidable as Max, but his role is so muted and devoid of any unique character (unlike Mel Gibson’s Max) that he could be just any other buff dude driving a war rig. Secondary characters Nux the war boy (Nicholas Hoult) and Capable (Riley Keough), one of Joe’s wives, brought more depth and complexity to Fury Road than the lead characters.
Fury Road certainly earned its Oscar nominations for the technical categories. Director Miller and cinematographer John Seale used each location beautifully to craft action sequences that never lost the thread. The set designs, costumes and flawless sound editing give depth and realism to this plausible version of life after WWIII.
Mad Max: Fury Road drops viewers directly into the middle of the action and holds you there until the final scene without a break in the tension. It’s a great popcorn movie and a real blast to watch. And it’s hard to not love a movie where a warring tribe rides into battle with its own drummers and guitarist. But seriously, it should’ve been called Imperator Furiosa.
RATING: *** stars