Review: George Miller's 'Mad Max: Fury Road' is the New Metal
by Jeremy Kirk
May 15, 2015
What a lovely day, indeed. It's been 30 years since we ventured out into the Wasteland with "Mad" Max Rockatansky, 34 if you're not counting the time he went Beyond Thunderdome. Who could blame you? With 30 years worth of hope and nearly 20 years of promise from series creator George Miller, a new adventure in Mad Max's dusty, brutal world had better deliver the goods. That adventure is now here for our sensory feasting. Mad Max: Fury Road delivers on your every, post-apocalyptic wish and with an endless supply of visual insanity. What more could you possibly hope for in Miller's vision for the world after the fall?
Miller's vision of the future has steadily grown in its absurdity since Mel Gibson's Max first took on Toecutter and his biker gang back in 1979. Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome varied in their depictions of the violence in this world, one clearly more interesting and entertaining than the other. With Fury Road, Miller errs on the side of fandom giving us Road Warrior's car-pocalypse style of action we've frequently loved for decades. Also with Fury Road, Miller finds time for everything but the kitchen sink, and, who knows? Even that might be there somewhere in the background.
It's an unrecognizable universe from one film to the next, and, here, even Max has changed. Tom Hardy fills the lead role this time as that lone traveller surviving across the barren land. While doing some of that lone traveling, he stumbles into the path of the War Boys. They're a savage army led by a sadistic ruler, Immortan Joe, played by Mad Max's original Toecutter, himself, Hugh Keays-Byrne. Joe abuses the people who follow him, some even worshipping the man as the savior of their world, and keeps a small harem of beautiful women, his Five Wives, to ensure the future of his clan.
Also part of Joe's group is Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, a truck driver who travels to the nearby Gas Town for fuel runs. Furiosa's latest run, however, heads off course, as she helps the Five Wives escape to a better life, a beautiful area she remembers from her childhood called the "Green Place". As Furiosa and the Five Wives race towards their freedom, Joe and his army of metalhead marauders follow close behind, and Max, capture by the War Boys, finds himself in tow for the long ride.
Miller has always depicted the protagonist of his series as the selfish loner who inadvertently finds himself as the reluctant hero, always running from the demons in his past aka the events of the first Mad Max. Fury Road is no exception, Max now beginning to lose mental stability under the weight of all the crazy in the world. Miller keeps him the strong, mysterious type, his post-apocapytic version of the Man With No Name staying silent for a majority of the action. That's all fine & dandy when there is this much insanity to behold.
The level of intensity Miller brings to the action in Fury Road is far greater than anything we've seen him pull off before. It hits early and rides on through until the very end, Joe's pursuit beginning even before we're given much character establishment. All of that comes over the course of the ensuing action, but never at the expense of Miller throwing just one more ridiculous set piece his audience's way.
An abundance of CG effects aid in the execution of Fury Road's action, another new addition to the Mad Max universe. The effects are sometimes noticeable, almost pulpy at times, but this, too, adds to the world's ludicrous attitude. The visceral tone of the violence, though, keeps the action here fairly grounded creating an odd juxtaposition that has a strong hand in defining Miller's strange world. It'd be off-putting if you weren't mentally transfixed to whatever wild, visual escapade the film is going to deliver next.
Fast-paced and hard-hitting as it is, the excitement in Fury Road never deters from the characters Miller presents. He does so with each one in clever and interesting ways. Immortan Joe's decaying skin and skull-like mask he wears to breathe speaks volumes. Furiosa's mechanical arm and headstrong attitude says even more. Their chase brings eccentric character after eccentric character out of the woodwork, each one having a respective, strong hand in expanding Miller's cinematic universe. More so than in any of the previous films, you understand how many of these individual characters could lead their own, solo movie; Furiosa chief among these.
Sure, Furiosa's development in Fury Road is more interesting than even that of Max, not that we haven't had three movies worth of Max's development already. It's Theron's performance, though, that solidifies the character's strength. While Hardy looks cool in a leather coat and saying very little, it falls on Theron's shoulders to carry much of the film's dramatic weight. She meets the challenge head-on and finally gives us someone else in this universe to cheer for other than the Road Warrior.
Hardy does a fine job playing the straight-man hero, Max becoming defined by the trail of exploded vehicles he leaves in his desert wake, but the actor is playing hard towards his strengths. The same can be said for the film itself, but that is putting it rather lightly.
Mad Max: Fury Road is the new metal – an epic, post-apocalyptic chase movie that hardly allows the viewer a moment to breathe before the next train load of stunning imagery hits. When Fury Road is done assaulting your sense and wiping your eyeballs all over the screen, one undeniable truth remains – George Miller still knows how to kick your ass and make you love every minute of it.
Reader Feedback - 24 Comments
Tonight. 10:50pm. Have my seats reserved. I'm excited to lose my mind.
ragethorn on May 15, 2015
It really is THAT good! Can't wait to see it again.
Danimal on May 15, 2015
The first 11 out of 10 review from Firstshowing.
Zack Snyder on May 15, 2015
Saw it last night. It was intense and non-stop action. I think i took myself out of the experience just a bit because i knew that it was done almost entirely by practical effects. I was in complete awe in the destruction and mayhem on the big screen. I honestly have to watch it again to get it all.
Franklin Carpio on May 15, 2015
This movie is how I want my cinema experience to be like everytime. I bought pop corn but at the end of the movie I realised I hadn't eaten any of it because my jaw was on the floor pretty much the entire movie. Well done to you Mr Miller, well done.
TK on May 15, 2015
Fury Road is more about Furiosa than about Mad Max. I came to see Max, instead I got Meh.
Happy Feet 2 on May 15, 2015
If you look at Thunderdome It was more about the other scavengers and how Max helped them too.
Chrisscros on May 15, 2015
Jacob Crim on May 15, 2015
I wanted to like this movie, but I think the hype machine around it really pumped it up too much. Not that it wasn't watchable, but when everyone's saying this is a 10/10, and it's at best a 7/10 that's a real disappointment. There were issues that I couldn't get over: (SPOILERS) 1. There's a guy who literally plays electric guitar the whole movie. It was cheesy and clashed with the tone of the story. 2. There's absolutely no comic relief whatsoever. 3. Max has maybe 10 lines of dialogue. 4. Max has no car in this movie. 5. Imperator Furiosa is the main character. 6. Max's flashbacks are never explained or talked about. Why even include them? 7. It's basically a two hour music video.
ion677 on May 15, 2015
The guy with the gusty was comic relief for me! Max didn't need words, just action. He did need his car, agreed, teased us with that one. Flashbacks were just enough, don't need to be spoon fed history. It wasn't a ten for me as well, but I had fun, and will be in my collection. I do like your review though.
mooreworthy on May 15, 2015
Fast and Furious needs to rename their franchise.
mooreworthy on May 15, 2015
Watch it in IMAX Bo!
mooreworthy on May 15, 2015
The best action adventure movie with tens times the speed and high octane action of Steve McQueen's Bullitt and all those John Ford's westerns combined in one flick..
Mike Zarquon on May 15, 2015
Maybe Miller should have named it "Furious Furiosa: Fury Road"? Like many others, I felt this was more about her character than Max. Sure, Max decided to help out after he didn't have any other options, but I'm also sure he would have totally left them all behind at the first chance he got had the war rig not had a cryptic start-up sequence. I honestly don't see all the hype. Yes, the movie was enjoyable. Yes, the stunts were amazing. Yes, the character designs were fantastic. Yes, there were many other things to enjoy about this movie. Was it perfect? No. I felt like the motivations of Furiosa could have been explained more. Why take so long to finally make the move? Why not just work to take things over from the inside instead? Why not send one person she trusted to investigate first? Why, when she clearly didn't explain anything to her guards on the war rig and in the other vehicles, did they not just stop her immediately, and why would they fight for her against their own? Many questions, few answers. I think 10-15 more minutes of film expanding on some of these things might have benefitted the film overall. Oh, and a focus more on Max than Furiosa. Only fair, since they named it after him.
NarcolepticNinja on May 15, 2015
From the interviews, I get that much of the ambiguity was intentional. Don't really think that takes away from the overall film though
Tyrell Antonio on May 16, 2015
That may be the case, but I don't feel that I should have to watch interviews with cast and crew to determine that. Motive for anyone doing anything is such a critical part of the process, for *any* type of storytelling.
NarcolepticNinja on May 20, 2015
I like you title and I agree with your opinion. The movie was one long car chase. In my opinion they failed on the pacing and should have put in more down time / non action time for character development.
MaqueeStalker on May 21, 2015
Thanks for the review, Kirk. Now please make a GOLDEN BRIEFCASE talking about it.
DAVIDPD on May 15, 2015
How much did the studio pay you to give a good review? Because I am sorry this movie sucked. I have never seen so many people get up and walk out of a free screening.
tyban81 on May 15, 2015
You suck, even for trolling.
Julio Navas on May 15, 2015
I loved it. Thought it was awesome. I was disappointed I saw it in 3D, 2D showing didn't work with my schedule. Butit was still loads of fun. and all around awesome. I liked the slow progressing of Max as a mad man, to talking more, still not much, but he always carried the movie. I don't think Furiosa really stole the movie like many are claiming, I think rather she was a great character and counter balance to Max. One who has hope, versus one who has forgotten hope. I liked the contrast and thought it balanced them well. I loved that, just like the Road Warrior, Max's outfit was practical aside from the high shoulder reload.
harm on May 18, 2015
Before going to watch this, google "mad max fury road homoerotic"
Bill the Cat on May 24, 2015
Finally saw this today. It was brilliant.
Quanah on Jun 2, 2015
Just got home from it. Holy hell that was a fuckin' movie!
grimjob on Jun 2, 2015
Sorry, new comments are no longer allowed.