There are few times when I’ve left the movie theatre feeling a profound sense of joy and adrenaline coursing through my veins. It’s happened with Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and The Departed — The last time I can recall such a feeling was with The Dark Knight. Deep down I knew that I’d just witnessed the birth of a timeless classic. Mad Max Fury Road is that and more.
Tom Hardy steps into the role of Max (because everybody hates Mel Gibson now) and he does a terrific job carrying the torch as the quiet and deadly anti-hero whose past is constantly haunting him — but the movie belongs to Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. Her one-armed wasteland badass is the soul of Mad Max: Fury Road and this character is one of the most memorable of the year by far. I dare say that this could be Theron’s best role of all time and she’s won an Academy Award. The supporting cast are all lovable lunatics too, especially Nicholas Hoult’s pale skinned Nux who is much more than the over the top maniac he’s initially introduced as. Fun fact – the main villain Immortan Joe is played by Hugh Keay’s-Byrne – that’s the same dude who was the evil Toecutter in the original Mad Max film. Director George Miller has come full circle here and I applaud his decision to cast Byrne, who is relatively unknown.
After a jarring set-up that sees Max captured and imprisoned in order to be used as a blood supply for the sick Nux, we’re taken on a cross-country road trip through post apocalyptic hell as Furiosa hatches a plan to rescue Immortan Joe’s sex slaves (aka wives). The bulk of Fury Road takes place on the road and during several extended car chase sequences. That’s essentially what Fury Road is – a series of terrifying car chases and every single one just happens to be one the best car chases ever filmed. Miller has utilized practical effects and stuntwork over the usual gaudy CGI laced competition and it is stunning. Everything in Fury Road looked 100% real and therefore 100% more awesome than anything else you’re likely to see in an action film this year (the one exception being Kingsman: The Secret Service).
Knowing that most of the stuntwork truly was as dangerous as it looked on-screen, adds so much more to the experience of the action set pieces. Seeing cars roll and explode has never felt or looked more real on the bigscreen. I would buy a book that fleshes out the details of this world that Miller has created too – because it’s fascinating. The masks, the clothing, the weaponry, the way society has changed itself in order to survive what should have been the end of the world – it’s all breathtaking in the same way a visually stunning movie like Avatar was. Fury Road is the anti-Avatar in many ways and because of that it works in the same way as viewers are taken on a visceral journey through this gorgeous and horrifying future that is equal parts captivating and disturbing. Miller has a disfigured whacko playing metal solos on a fire spewing guitar atop a battle vehicle for some reason. Fury Road is in many ways, the most metal film ever made.
Miller has created his masterpiece here. It is a non-stop psychotic thrill ride that manages to top previous entries of the franchise. I grew up with the first Mad Max, a movie that may not have aged as well as The Road Warrior but that’s the one that will always stick with me because I saw it when I was too young to be watching that type of film. Fury Road has more in common with Road Warrior and from the sounds of it many fans of that entry are saying Miller’s new one is just as good if not better. I think it’s better – it just might be the best film of 2015, or even the last five years…. Or more! It’s that good.
If you haven’t seen the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, I urge you to check it out on Netflix. In that movie we see a director create what is without a doubt one of the craziest and most ambitious films of all time but he never got the greenlight so his masterpiece is forever sealed within the pages of this gigantic book. I feel like Miller had his own giant book loaded with these insane and brilliant ideas but some psycho let him present his vision and handed the guy $150,000,000 to do it. Fury Road is destined to become a classic and it’s a film that gives me a sense of hope. If studios can truly trust an artist’s vision like they have with Miller’s, then the movie world still has a future beyond the world of overused CGI and superhero adaptations.