May 232015

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 35 years since the last Mad Max film. The creator of the franchise, George Miller, is back with Mad Max: Fury Road with Tom Hardy taking over the signature role from Mel Gibson. It’s been far too long since an epic post-apocalyptic movie came out, and the trailers for the movie looked amazing. Is the film as action-packed and as brutal as a fanboy can hope for? Find out in our Mad Max: Fury Road review.

I’m going to start this review off a little differently than normal. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, then go out to your local theater and catch it while you can! There will be some spoilers below, but, for now, let me just say that Mad Max: Fury Road is amazing and everything I wanted to see in such a film. Please support it so that George Miller can make more of them. Now off to our regularly scheduled Mad Max: Fury Road review.

Mad Max: Fury Road review

You know when you’re in a Mad Max world.

The beauty of Mad Max: Fury Road is its simplicity. At its heart, it’s an extended chase that lasts for essentially the whole movie. Dialogue is sparse, but meaningful, and there is plenty of character development that occurs along the way, with the notable case being War Boy Nux (Nicholaus Hoult). The movie gets into the action immediately as Max is captured by War Boys, a group of warriors that worship a leader by the name of Immortan Joe. This leader has created a cult where his War Boys worship him as a god and are eager to die for him in order to enter Valhalla. He also controls all the water for the entire region, and it shows how crazy the world has become when he exhorts his followers to not become addicted to water!

Once captured, Max is used as a blood bank (they call him a “blood bag” in the movie) to top up the War Boys as he’s a universal donor. The action begins when Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is taking a water shipment to Gas Town when she deviates and heads off into the wilderness. The War Boys and Immortan Joe pursue her (along with forces from Gas Town and Bullet Town) as she is also carrying the concubines of Joe that he uses as breeders to create a new generation of warlords. Max gets dragged into the thick of things when Nux straps him to the front of his car (with the blood transfusion still going on!) and joins the chase.

What can I say about Mad Max: Fury Road? Simply put, this movie is bat-shit insane and packs more balls per minute that any film I can remember. There isn’t a wasted moment in this film, and George Miller conveys more meaning with a quick glance or one piece of action than most directors will get from a ten minute conversation in their films. The biggest feature of the film is the action, and it’s oh so glorious. While there is some CGI, the bulk of all the action is done through real stunt work and practical effects. In this day and age, this is actually revolutionary, and the reality of what you’re watching comes through on the screen. They have cars with guys hanging off the tops of pendulums that are swinging back and forth as they zoom across the desert at 70mph! As someone who worships at the altar of practical effects and real stunt work, the action in this movie was like manna from heaven to me.

Mad Max: Fury Road review

Actual stunts with real people and cars!

As for the vehicles, they’re works of art in themselves. All of the vehicles in the movie are real world machines. One standout is the combination tank tread/car body used by the leader of Bullet Town. My personal favorite (that also featured my favorite character) is a truck that essentially transports Immortan Joe’s personal band. There are four giant drums on the back with drummers pounding away, but on the front is a crazy guy playing a guitar that’s also a flamethrower! A flamethrower!

The band truck highlights one feature of Mad Max: Fury Road that I adore: George Miller explains nothing. When you see some new group of people, there is no explanation of who they are and why they’re there. He doesn’t even explain the relationship between the three settlements and their leaders. It’s up to the viewer to realize that Immortan Joe is one of three brothers, and each of them rule their own separate empire but work together. In any other movie, there would be the evil ruler crying out, “Bring out my personal band truck to proclaim my greatness!” Well, you don’t get that here. You just have to pick up the pieces of what’s going on. The person sitting in the theater is just along for the ride in this insane post-apocalyptic world. I have to say that I love this approach because it keeps the pacing dynamic and upbeat, and it assumes that you’re intelligent enough to figure things out. It’s also a great way to pick up new things on repeated viewings. [On a side note, a friend of mine loves the band truck and crazy guitar player too. He told me that he was questioning why the bad guy would have such a thing until he realized that why wouldn’t a warlord of the wastelands not have a truck with a flamethrower guitar player wailing away on the front? It makes perfect sense for one to do so.]

As for the characters, they’re a fascinating bunch. Charlize Theron is actually the main character in the film. She’s incredibly bad-ass and tough but still has hope burning in her heart. The wives of Immortan Joe are not your typical damsels in distress. They fight to survive, but they also have an inner core of strength as they don’t want any unnecessary killing. In the hands of a lesser director, they would have come across as weak or irritating, but such isn’t the case here. They’re strong characters in their own right. The biggest story arc is that of War Boy Nux, who goes from blind follower of Immortan Joe to essentially being reborn and fighting for what’s right. As for Max, he serves as the nihilistic center that everyone else bounces off of. He is literally insane in this movie as he constantly sees his dead daughter and those he failed to protect. I liked Tom Brady as Max, but I will admit that he doesn’t have the charisma of Mel Gibson. His entire goal is just survival, and the occasional embers of his conscience may flare into life at some point.

Mad Max: Fury Road review

I want to be a warlord of the wasteland just so I can have this truck!

So what’s my final verdict in my Mad Max: Fury Road review? The answer is that this movie is an A+ and more. George Miller is seventy years old, and he beats the pants off directors forty years younger than him in showing how you make an action movie. What really gets me is that this movie is definitely something he wanted made, and he did it in his own way. A case in point is that the movie is rated R. It could easily have been reduced to a PG-13 by just cutting out maybe two minutes, and he decided to keep it R despite the fact that R-rated movies make less money. On the flipside, when most movies are rated R, they pull out all the stops in areas like gore, nudity, and sex. This isn’t the case either. George Miller had a vision, and he obviously didn’t feel the need to get gratuitous. Overall, I honestly can’t find a single weakness in this movie. The world that George Miller creates is brutal, unforgiving, and unforgettable. When you see that they use women as cows in order to use breast milk shows how crazy the world of Mad Max is. The last thing that I can say is that Mad Max: Fury Road has joined the classics of sci-fi cinema as it is that good. I can’t even get mad that there’s no motorcycle marauders with mohawks running around.

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