(Review) Mad Max: Fury Road

This is the film to beat this summer.

Mad Max returns after a thirty-ish year hiatus, and this time he comes in the form of the electrifying Tom Hardy. Armed with little dialogue and many ammo-deprived weapons, Max begins the film simply enough. After a monologue that sets up the entire premise of the film, for those who have never seen the earlier entries in the series, Max begins a long run from a cultish clan of warriors led by the ruthless Immortan Joe (High Keays-Burn). But, he doesn’t get far before he needs a little help from Charlize Theron’s bad ass Furiosa, a woman taking charge and leading Joe’s “breeders” to a new life of freedom.

I loved this movie. In an age where sequels and reboots dumb down everything, this film was refreshing, mainly because it was an original script where nothing was known. Anyone could be injured in the spectacular car chases through vast desert landscapes. Any character could fall to their doom, or be executed. But, what appealed to me was that the action and violence was stylized, allowing our minds to fill in the blanks. The blood was sparingly used, but don’t be misled. This film was filled with grotesques to the brim. I can honestly say that I haven’t been transported to a different world on the big screen this easily and quickly in a long time.

Within minutes I knew everything I needed to know. There were no monologues or entire scenes devoted to spewing plot information. Director George Miller is a master at showing instead of telling, and I felt like I was thrust into a living, breathing world where you were lucky to get out alive. The great currencies in this world were three: water, fuel, and bullets. As the film progresses, our heroes are pitted against the three lords of those currencies in a massive chase/battle that left me on the edge of my seat. All the cars were real, and you could tell that the actors were really interacting with a physical location. I couldn’t find a single instance of blatant green screen in the entire film.

I don’t really know what else to say besides an endorsement that this film demands to be seen on the big screen. Sit as close as you can until the screen fills your vision. All the actors are to be commended for their talent. Hardy spends the first half of the film relying only on his movements. His jaw is clenched shut with a trap as he is harnessed to the front of a suicidal warrior’s car as he is driven to his destiny. Theron gives me the kind of female character that deserves to exist in more films moving forward. If there is a sequel, I sincerely hope that we see more of these types of characters.

Even the breeders, the gorgeous super-model actresses, were well-developed characters with determination to escape their fate of simply being pleasure-givers to the grotesque Immortan Joe. I genuinely cared for them, and was cheering when they proved they were made of stronger stuff than their looks suggested.

Everyone will talk about the visuals, as they deserve to be marveled at, but I was equally impressed with the musical score. Junkie XL built the other half of the film – the audible side of it – along with help from a masterful sound designer and mixer. If this film isn’t in the running for a sound mixing Oscar, I will be very disappointed. There was an urgency to both the sound and the chase scenes that is missing from a lot of movies of this caliber. The stakes were real because they felt and looked real in Fury Road. Nothing was too shiny. Nothing felt like it was added after the fact. I honestly couldn’t pick apart a shot the way I can a Marvel shot. I couldn’t tell how it was all put together, and that was refreshing.

Someone commented on a message board that this film will fail because men will be more inclined to download this film illegally than to see it in a cinema. I implore you, see this in a cinema. By some random act of grace from above we have been given the gift of a true blockbuster, the kind that we grew up watching each summer when directors were allowed to truly translate their singular vision onto the big screen. Support this film and hopefully we will get many more like it. If the rumors are true, I will be first in line once the sequel hits. There’s no knowing where this will go, and that’s the entire point.


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