After spending his last few films with talking animals, veteran Australian filmmaker George Miller returns to the dystopian world of the Road Warrior this year with ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’ In this post-apocalyptic adrenaline-fueled road trip blockbuster, Tom Hardy takes the mantle of Max Rockatansky from Mel Gibson and introduces a whole new generation to this cult classic character, while reinventing the mindless doomsday genre that dominates theaters in the summer months into a gritty, gorgeous, and gory thrill ride worthy of the biggest screen you could possibly watch it on.
The film also starring Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Zoe Kravitz, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley follows Max as he joins forces with a War Rig driver named Imperator Furiosa to escape the tyrannical rule of cult leader King Immortan Joe by venturing across the vast desert to a land that was long forgotten by the broken remains of humanity. Along the way, they encounter misguided War Boys, Bullet Farmers, biker gangs, and the harsh elements that attempt to stop them and their companions from succeeding in overthrowing their enemy’s soul-crushing way of life.
There’s so much good stuff to say about this film, but it’s important to say this first: Despite being a part of a beloved franchise that dates back to 1979, there’s absolutely no need to be familiar with previous installments to enjoy ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’ Similar to James Bond films or ‘Doctor Who,’ we can jump right into the action with a character that we’ve come to know and love throughout the years, except he has a different face. Surely a working knowledge of the previous three films would be beneficial to the viewing experience, but it’s not necessary at all thanks to the mindful writing of Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, who dutifully remember that it’s been thirty years since we’ve seen a Mad Max movie.
With that being said, new and long-time fans alike have been seeing the incredible previous for ‘Fury Road’ for months now and I can say with 100% certainty that the final product is as good as the trailers make it out to be. I can’t gush enough about how incredible the set design, costume design, and color palette were. Certain shots in the film are so hauntingly beautiful that they belong in a museum. The characters were definitely over the top, but you couldn’t look away because their insanely designed weapons and outrageous vehicles commanded your attention. Basically, it has everything you could want in a summer blockbuster.
It was also a little mind-blowing to me that there was so little discernible dialogue in the majority of ‘Fury Road’. For the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, I recall thinking to myself that I haven’t understood a single word that came from a character’s mouth because they were simply grunting, yelling, or speaking gibberish. Regardless of that, Miller told the story well enough with his camera that I didn’t really need an explanation for what was happening. Everything was just established with the visceral, vibrant, and hallucinatory shots, so the audience buys it right away.
Another thing that I loved about ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is that the true star is really Charlize Theron’s Furiosa. Max is supposed to be the star, but it’s really Furiosa who sets these events into motion and kicks some serious ass. Don’t get me wrong, Hardy certainly gets his epic hits in, but his Max is mostly there for heavy lifting. The plot moves forward and really develops because of Furiosa. Unfortunately, you don’t really see that being done too well in action movies often. Usually, your male lead is front and center of all the action, but here we get to see something different when Furiosa, King Joe’s wives, and the elderly women from the Green Place spring into action. No damsels in distress here, folks. Both men and women are extremely badass in this film (just like in real life) and it’s super entertaining to see.
If I had to compare ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ to other movies, the best way that I could describe it is a post-apocalyptic ‘The Fast and the Furious’ with a twisted ‘Wizard of Oz’ journey mixed with ‘Heavy Metal,’ the good parts of ‘Sucker Punch,’ ‘Terminator,’ the old school Hanna-Barbera cartoon ‘Wacky Races,’ and ‘Waterworld’ (which is actually a compliment because I love it much more than your average moviegoer). The action is all over the place, but it’s not messy. It’s over the top, but not cheesy. The cast makes everything work so well. The visuals are so on point that I can’t stop thinking about them. And above all, this movie is probably everything Michael Bay has wanted to do with his films, but just couldn’t make happen most likely ever. Just go see it, dammit. This film is entertaining as hell and has some straight up crazy sh*t in it. Seriously, even though I’m so excited for what’s coming out this year like ‘Tomorrowland,’ ‘Jurassic World,’ and ‘Ant-Man,’ you might not have this much fun in a movie all summer.