Mad Max: Fury Road is the next chapter in the story of Max Rockatansky, a post-apocalyptic wasteland warrior who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. This time Max is captured by the army of a brutal warlord named Immortan Joe and thrown into a desert skirmish involving escape, redemption and the preservation of life. As Max tries to survive, he also finds it within himself to help others break away from captivity and find a world worth living in.
I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. George Miller has directed a film that stands far above the action spectacle of the last few decades and he delivers a visceral and real feeling gut punch of practical effects and brutality. The film is basically made up of chase sequences with exposition and narrative thrown in, and it all works really well. It’s fantastic and over the top and bombastic to say the least.
Tom Hardy gives a mixed performance as Max up until a point where things seem to click in place and we see him fully immersed into the role Mel Gibson played in The Road Warrior. Our introduction to his performance is built on the realization that he is damaged and broken. This version of Max may not be what devoted fans are expecting, but by the end of the film Tom Hardy earns every bit of his role as Max.
In the way that the Road Warrior is about the refinery commune and Beyond Thunderdome is about the plane crash survivors, Fury Road concerns itself with a group of women that have become slaves to a tyrant. Charlize Theron is Furiosa, a warrior woman with an expertise for making supply runs by driving a big rig for her boss. After years of serving her boss she decides to rebel and this gets the main plot of the film rolling. Once Immortan Joe realizes one of his best has gone rogue, the war party assembles and the chase is on.
Hugh Keays-Byrne is a fantastic villain with the kind of presence rarely seen on screen these days. His look is disturbing and all of his physical acting is bold. There are scenes where only a gesture of his will redefine the tone of what is to come. It also helps that the rogues gallery of Fury Road is incredibly rich as we have not one, but three different groups going after Furiosa’s convoy. You have Joe who controls the water, The People Eater who controls the gas and The Bullet Farmer (and I’m sure you can guess his role) all chasing our main characters through the wasteland while never seeming too congested.
The action scenes are incredibly orchestrated and the pacing of the film speeds along with very few lulls or long pauses. It’s an energetic ride from the beginning and by the time it’s all over you may have to catch your breath from the rush. If you were all about the vehicles in the earlier Max films, you’re in luck. Fury Road is filled with unbelievable cars, bikes and rigs that are made to cause destruction. Even the Interceptor is around and while it may not be the same one from the earlier movies, it’s still Max’s favorite car no matter what. So, over all it has what fans have been waiting for.
Now we are going to get into some parts of the film that contain spoilers. I highly recommend seeing the film before reading the following so skip past the next three images to the summary if you haven’t watched Mad Max: Fury Road.
This is still Max’s story but Furiosa is the focal point of this chapter. She is the redeemer who steals from Immortan Joe the thing he values most out of everything, his family. Joe’s wives are his future. He has two sons that we know are 100% his, the musclebound grunt Rictus and the immobile little man who first spots the attempt Furiosa makes to escape and sends Joe into a frenzy. Once he is in the chamber where his wives are held, the older woman called Miss Giddy makes it clear that he does not own any of them and they are not just stock for him to use for breeding.
This story defines the the underlying moral of the film that people are not to be owned and used by others. Max is captured and used for his high octane, universal donor quality blood and Immortan Joe’s wives are considered his property for their health and beauty. The sick bastard even has a group of women set up on milking machines. He reigns high above in his tower filled with natural resources and rules over a dying people that listen to him preach of salvation and Valhalla before dispensing a small amount of water. He even has the gaul to say not to get addicted. It’s an amazing set up for an evil character deserving of defeat.
Fury Road is rich with fantastic characters. Names aren’t always easily remembered, but they aren’t really needed either. When Furiosa asks Max his name he doesn’t see a point in giving it and it’s understandable. When most of the people he deals with wind up dead why bother. Max starts off in Fury Road mentally scarred to the point that he has uncontrollable flashbacks and hallucinations. He can barely separate his visions from reality. For the first act of the film he is a captive and only when he takes control of himself when Angharad (played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) goes “under the wheels” do we really see Max as the road warrior trying to help others survive.
The women of Fury Road are amazing and they put up the best fight against adversity of the series. Immortan Joe’s wives are all given time to shine individually and kick ass when the time comes. Zoë Kravitz is especially note worthy in her role and delivers some of the most memorable lines of the group alongside the fiery redhead played by Riley Keough. The few of the “Many Mothers” that are left step up to the plate to show even older women know how to ride bikes and fight like hell. The moments when these characters reflect on fallen comrades and the lost world come across as sincere and are very well executed.
This makes the fight against the testosterone fueled war party that much more intense as we have two divided groups each chasing after their own interests. The war dogs that make up Immortan Joe’s army only want to make it to Valhalla with their fellow warriors and sacrifice themselves willingly. The three times Nicholas Hoult’s Nux is about to kill himself to take out Furiosa make his final sacrifice into a moment where he realizes that he is finally doing something selfless for the good of others. It’s tragic that he can’t live on to spend his days with the woman he came to love even though he was still near the end of his half-life.
That brings up the body horror aspect of Mad Max: Fury Road that hasn’t really been a part of the films aside from Beyond Thunderdome. There are legitimate monsters in Fury Road and they are glorious. Joe is a diseased old man with severe respiratory issues and his fellow leaders are the blubberous People Eater and the twisted bullet-toothed Bullet Farmer. Joe’s war party even features a man tethered to a massive rig setup only to play guitar as drums are being beaten behind him. This guy looks like a demon guitarist straight from Hell and the reveal that he is blind is unsettling and awesome. This all doesn’t even seem like it should exist in a modern film, but it does and goddammit it is fucking fantastic.
There’s plenty more to take from Mad Max: Fury Road that makes it a great film and I can say after repeat viewings it has a very high rewatchability factor. Over time it may well stand up along side the likes of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Aliens for a multitude of reasons. When it comes down to it though, every Mad Max movie is different and trying to compare them to each other is tough. Fury Road on its own is exhilarating, energetic and very entertaining and you don’t even have to be a fan of the series to enjoy it. If nothing else, see this while it plays in theaters at least once. This is hands down the biggest action movie of the year and it is not to be missed for anything.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars