Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours
MPAA Rating: R for Intense Sequences of Violence throughout, and for Disturbing Images
Directed by: George Miller
Written by: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz & Abbey Lee
In 1980, a crazy little Australian revenge-thriller called MAD MAX made it to American shores as a midnight movie. It gained a fast cult following and spawned a sequel titled THE ROAD WARRIOR. The second entry upped the ante on every possible level and become one of the best action films in the history of cinema. Then studio interference screwed up the third entry (BEYOND THUNDERDOME) which had a solid first half and then devolved into a family friendly Peter Pan-esque mess by the end. About thirty years have passed and creator George Miller has finally brought his fourth MAD MAX movie to the screen. With 150 million backing it, this is the most expensive MAD MAX yet and every single dollar is on the screen. In FURY ROAD, George Miller has demonstrated that he has more imagination and kick-ass action in his little finger than a majority of young whippersnappers working these days. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is amazing!
Functioning as both a reboot and a sequel, we find Max (former cop turned vigilante loner) as a shell of his once-human self. He relies purely on his instinct of survival, but even that isn’t enough to protect him from a violent cult-like community (called the Citadel) who capture him as a slave. When Furiosa (a female warrior) betrays Immortan Joe (the self-proclaimed religious leader of the Citadel) by rescuing a group of brides (kept as his breeders), Max is strapped to the front of a car as a would-be hood ornament/blood donor to one of Joe’s pale-skinned soldiers sent out to capture Furiosa. A sand storm hits and Max escapes from his predicament, only to join Furiousa and her group of escapees. If any of them have a hope of escaping Joe’s clutches, they must fight or die.
With nearly three decades, it’s clear that George Miller had plenty of time to plan his return to stellar post-apocalyptic form. Every vehicle, character, and set piece is well thought out and elaborately constructed. Miller introduces everything in a way that doesn’t completely spell out anything for the audience, but let’s them see a system in action and learn from it (e.g. the warrior’s suicide rituals, a massive pulley system, and the use of humans as living blood bags). Miller clearly wasn’t worried about going too off the rails in his demented creativity, because this movie starts off insane and only gets crazier from that point forward. Kudos to a man who can pull off a lunatic wielding a flamethrower guitar and making it totally fit within the confines of the movie. Also, the landscapes may be sparse (aside from the canyon city that is the Citadel), but they look stunning. I especially liked how the night scenes appeared in pure blue lighting.
Tom Hardy serves as a more-than-worthy replacement in Mel Gibson’s shoes as Max. It doesn’t seem like a single characteristic has changed despite a different face in the role. He’s a survivor who isn’t afraid to kill, but also has a heart of gold that slowly comes out of its shell over time. Serving as a fantastic companion is Charlize Theron’s Furiosa. This one-armed warrior ranks among the strongest female badasses to ever grace the silver screen (right alongside the likes of Ellen Ripley from ALIENS and Sarah Connor from TERMINATOR 2). Theron is compelling from the very first scene and ends up as one of the best characters to come out of the whole series. The brides also serve as more than damsels in distress too as they do everything in their power to help fight bad guys and protect their rescuers. Nicholas Hoult gives his best performance yet as Nux (the aforementioned pale-skinned soldier). The villains are also uniquely and delightfully insane.
Running at two hours, FURY ROAD is the longest MAD MAX movie yet, but manages to feel perfectly paced all the way through. A majority of the film is action, but it’s all beautifully rendered action. You’ve pretty much seen nothing like the scenes in this movie before. It’s all about the brilliant execution of the carnage and mayhem! What’s really neat is to see an action film that’s loaded with scenes that feel like they’re really happening. I don’t know how many cars Miller had built and destroyed for this movie, but I’d wager there were a lot of them. If you can imagine the sheer madness of ROAD WARRIOR’s finale stretched for two hours and never getting boring, you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head as to what watching FURY ROAD feels like.
It’s not hyperbole to call MAD MAX: FURY ROAD one of the very best summer blockbusters in a long, long time. This movie is gloriously insane and extremely well-crafted! The heroes and heroines are fleshed out and worth rooting for, with main figure of the latter being one of the single best female characters that I’ve ever seen. The levels of creativity and imagination are through the roof. George Miller just schooled pretty much every wannabe action filmmaker who only rely on explosions and computer effects to make films. In FURY ROAD, the characters are developed, the stakes are high and the action gets your adrenaline pumping like no other. It’s said that if this film does well at the box office, there are already sequels lined up. If those future films are anywhere near as excellent as FURY ROAD, bring on more high-octane madness! Go see this movie on the big screen! You’ll be spending your time wisely and it deserves your money and support!