Now, I am no Mad Max acolyte talking here, the only thing I remember from those films was that sand pit scene where the kid disappears in Thunderdome; at least I think that happened in that film. And the fact that I am not a fan of the series is a testament to how amazing this movie is. It works entirely on its own terms and does a pretty fantastic bit of world building to set up the picture. Max is a lone wolf, gets caught by a crazy cult community, and then gets thrown into a crazy set of circumstances that is self-contained to this story. This Mad Max story is this Mad Max story, so don’t be scared away by the series’ past, especially because this movie is fucking great.
The film’s plot isn’t thick, most of the characters aren’t full of depth and dimension, but they are a worthy vessel for the action extravaganza ballet that Miller puts on for the villain. Every time you think there’s nothing more you can see that you haven’t seen before, Miller throws another burst of insane originality that boggles your mind. The world building and attention to detail is so intricate and full of intriguing little bits of information, you get lost in every close-up combing over the frame. The costumes, the production design, the effects work, it all works seamlessly to come together to create this post-apocalyptic landscape and breathe it full of life. This world feels like it exists and I hope we never devolve into this insane vision of the future.
Mad Max: Fury Road is, more or less, an endless chase scene across the post-apocalyptic Australian desert and it never lets up. The action is as inventive as Miller’s world building with no scene not feeling fresh or different than what came before it. The movie even doubles back along the Fury Road and Miller finds millions of ways to make the action completely new. The action in the film borders on revolutionary and is as original as any action set piece you will see this year, or ever. Every bit feels natural, but is seamlessly and meticulously planned out to perfection, making it all feel so effortless. I could talk about the action forever, but you best experience as cold as possible. I never even saw a trailer for this film and my jaw was dropped for most of the run time.
The cast in the film doesn’t have to do a lot emotionally, but they are all fantastic physical presences throughout. Tom Hardy plays Max with a detached and rugged strength that he gets across almost exclusively through body language, often unintelligibly grunting otherwise. The grunting works though, as Max is a silent hero who is constantly struggling internally with what is right. Charlize Theron is also a commanding physical presence up on that screen as she shares lead status with Hardy on the picture. She is as bad ass as anyone in the film and she convincing delivers most of the film’s emotional weight that isn’t attached to the disgusting clan of Immortan Joe. Speaking of which, Hugh Keays-Byrne is terrifying as Joe as he and the costume team bring this demented character to life with shocking effect. Nicholas Hoult also does a fine job as a lackey of Joe who gets caught in the mix of this all and he makes the most of some of the insane moments that are given to him. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is also a great leader and commanding presence when up on the screen this time, surely making some think twice about writing her off after her Transformers turn. The giant cast is full of interesting faces and performances across the board. Miller and his casting director did an amazing job of filling this film out with memorable characters.
In the end, Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best films of the year. I almost didn’t even believe what I was seeing at times and I can’t wait to go back again to be sure it was all real. Run to the theater this weekend, Mad Max: Fury Road will be some of the best you get this film year.