Review - Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), R, 120 minutes - George Miller returns from a stint directing more family friendly films (Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet, Happy Feet Two) to reboot his iconic character first introduced to the world thirty six years ago in 1979's Mad Max (starring Mel Gibson).

Taking place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland of a world, the film opens with Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) munching on a two headed lizard and thinking to himself about one thing: survival.  Moments later he is run down and abducted by a group of War Boys, minions of the land's ruler Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne - who also played the primary villain Toecutter in the 1979 original).  This sequence kicks off what becomes an almost two hour, pedal to the metal car chase that only slows for plot advancing dialog on a couple of occasions.  The basics: Immortan Joe controls all of the precious natural resources around The Citadel and limits their distribution to in order to subjugate his people.  From time to time he sends a convoy out to a neighboring 'city' (or what passes for them in this wasteland) in order to obtain other resources.  When Fury Road begins, one of his most trusted subjects, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is preparing to make a run to replenish their gasoline reserves.  Unknown to Joe, she has other plans: smuggling his collection of wives (one of them pregnant) from The Citadel in efforts of finding a safer place for them to live.  Once Furiosa's change in course is discovered, Immortan Joe leads an army of War Boys in their pursuit.  Max is thrust into the chase as a recovering War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult), using Max as a living blood bag, straps him to his vehicle and joins the chase.  Initially only concerned with his own survival, Max eventually comes to help Furiosa in her quest to defy and escape Immortan Joe and his blindly loyal minions.

While the film has his name on it, one could argue that Max plays second fiddle to Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa, or maybe even third behind the insane action sequences that are clearly center stage in George Miller's vision.  Hardy and Theron aren't the only recognizable faces in the cast, joining them are the aforementioned Houlk, Rosie Huntington-Whitely (The Splendid Angharad - Immortan Joe's pregnant wife), and Zoë Kravitz (Toast the Knowing - another wife of Joe's).

For an R-rated film, there's surprisingly little graphic violence, but there are tons of explosions and wrecks.  The plot is relatively basic, but the vehicle and character design is crazy over-the-top and the cinematography and stunt work is top notch.  I would have guessed that there was a ton of visual effects work on this film, but I read that the majority of the stunts were done practically, leaving the effects team to handle things such as Imperator Furiosa's prosthetic arm, enhancing the Namibian landscape that the film was shot on, and removing filming equipment from shots.

Mad Max: Fury Road is an insanely action packed, fast paced film that belies its two hour run-time.  Miller successfully re-imagined his iconic character and introduces him to a new generation of film goers with an even grittier, more barren world than in his original trilogy.  He also gives us a very strong and determined female lead in Theron's Furiosa, making this much more than just a testosterone filled action flick.  I'm not sure if Miller plans on future Mad Max films or not, but Fury Road works as both a stand alone story or a set up for future films (which can sometimes be difficult to accomplish).

Because it is so action and explosion heavy, I don't know that I can truly recommend Mad Max: Fury Road to everyone, but I do feel pretty comfortable in saying that just about anyone I know will be entertained by it.  Let me put it another way just to be safe: unless you absolutely can't stand car chases and explosions you should give Mad Max: Fury Road a look in a theater.  It is definitely a film that should be experienced on the big screen.

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