Oh, what a lovely story it is with Mad Max: Fury Road. Some three decades after George Miller made the third in his Mad Max trilogy, he’s returned to helm this new entry. Obviously, the visual capabilities possible nowadays have advanced exponentially and yet Miller eschews the CGI we’ve grown so accustomed to whenever possible. We also have a new Max in the form of Tom Hardy, who in every way equals the strong and mostly silent charisma that OG Max Mel Gibson brought. And we have action heroine Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who might be the most badass female character in this particular type of genre since Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.
It is not necessary to know Miller’s original pics to follow Fury Road. Max’s family history from the 1979 original is brought forth, but not explored in any meaningful way. Having said that – if you haven’t seen them, you really should. Instead we have a new story with Max as a captured man in a post apocalyptic world. He’s being held by the evil Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) as a blood donor for an injured War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Our main villain controls his land’s water supply and lords over a group of beautiful and captive women that he impregnates to keep his blood line flowing. Hell breaks loose when Furiosa, one of his top errand girls, veers off course on a mission to pick up oil. She takes Joe’s girls with him and Max soon ends up in her presence along with Nux as a near two hour chase ensues.
Along this chase, we learn some fascinating details of Furiosa’s background in particular as this vast and desolate world soon reveals more about itself. And yet the chase rarely stops. Fury Road is an astonishing example of how cinematography, editing, sound, music stunt work, and visual effects can come together. Frankly, it makes most action pictures look small. We have grown highly accustomed to an amazing shot and visual here and there in our Fast and Furious and Mission: Impossible pics and efforts from your Bays and Emmerichs. This is something entirely different and for a fourth feature in a franchise, something that feels completely fresh. For a film not particularly concerned with it, the plot is totally interesting yet Miller and his cowriters know not to spend too much valuable time on backstory.
George Miller and his wizard team hit the gas peddle and fly here. It’s over the top non-stop excitement that is a constant eyeball feast. Fury Road was stuck in what those in Hollywood call “development hell” for thirty years. Who knew it would emerge from that designation as this? An action flick that is truly gorgeously made with characters that we genuinely care about as they hurl furiously down their road back to redemption.
**** (out of four)