*Note: This review will also be found at the Seattle University Spectator next week, you can find it at http://www.seattlespectator.com/2015/05/21/critics-corner-mad-max-fury-road/
There’s a special kind of beauty that is portrayed in Mad Max: Fury Road—the beauty of insanity. From its pulse-pounding opening, to its hour-long car chases, and its absurd, desolate wasteland, Fury Road grabs you by the waistband and yanks you into an amazing action movie that is exceedingly fresh and chaotic amongst cookie-cutter blockbusters, and it hardly ever slows down to let you catch your breath.
After fifteen years of being in a so-called “developmental hell,” George Miller’s Fury Road is finally upon us. Originally planned in 1999, the 4th film in the continuing saga of “The Road Warrior”—a mysterious drifter originally played by Mel Gibson—faced years of financial setbacks and troubles in getting this quasi-sequel/reboot off the ground. Fury Road not only acknowledges the history of the titular character but also brings the series to an entirely new generation of movie-goers.
The film follows Max (Tom Hardy) as he assists Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) attempting to free the enslaved “Wives” of Immortan Joe. Immortan is the ruler of the region, and he does not take kindly in having his prized possessions being taken away from him so he sends his entire army after them.
From the opening moments you know you’re in for a real show. Considering that most of the two-hour-long movie takes place behind the wheels of an impressive array of motley cars, you might think that it would get pretty boring—but you’re wrong. There are moments in Fury Road that are pure cinematic bliss which need to be seen to be believed. Miller is a wizard at providing the twisted and gorgeous carnage, and perhaps even more so considering that an estimated 80% of the film was actually practical effects and not CGI. These are action sequences that you are not likely to forget for a long time. The only downside comes when the action subsides just long enough to tell a story, and after being so used to fast-paced movement, the static moments feel a little more jarring than we would if this was your average movie.
Though this is not entirely a performance-driven film, each character is imbued with a sense that they are living and breathing in this crazy world. Hardy deftly picks up the rough and quiet demeanor left by his predecessor while also putting his own spin on the character. He grunts and nods his way through scenes, only speaking when it is absolutely necessary. His wife and kids, who were taken from him in the original film, are seen in hallucinations spurred on by his PTSD, giving him an extra layer of depth. Theron, though she is missing an arm, gives Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow a run for her money as most butt-kicking heroine of the year. Her character is the strongest in the film, and could even be considered the lead. Though she is physically flawed, she makes up for it with pure determination and care for the girls she is trying to rescue. And then there is Hoult, who is hardly recognizable as Nux, the War Boy hot on the trail of Furiosa in order to impress Immortan Joe. His character has the most interesting arc, but I won’t spoil it for you.
Mad Max: Fury Road is a chaotic, insane adrenaline rush that is already the best thrill-ride of the summer. With three more sequels supposedly on the way, Fury Road is an excellent way for you to acquaint yourself with the glorious world that Miller has crafted over the last 36 years. So, hop on in and buckle up—I doubt you’ll be asking “Are we there yet?” on this road trip.