Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Movie Review
This Decade's Ultimate Action Movie Experience
Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2015 action film by George Miller starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, and is the fourth official movie in the Mad Max franchise.
Okay, calling Mad Max: Fury Road a film is an understatement – I should have called it a masterpiece! I haven't seen a movie that felt this kick-ass since the Matrix (the first one, not the sequels) debut. This will definitely be the big action movie others will attempt to imitate for a very long time.
The biggest difference between other action movies and Fury Road is the colossal events involving dozens of vehicles, often with real people on extremely high poles dancing in the air as the toss or fire explosives. It's not just closeup shots of all this happening, I'm talking about insanely wide-angle shots that shows every single vehicle and actor at once. If you've seen Mad Max 2, think of the incredible mass-vehicle shots, then increase the army of vehicles by three or four times with even more wild crazy stunts taking place at once.
Of course, when one of the lead villain vehicles feature an electric guitarist rocking away at the front of it which shoots gasoline flames from headstock while blasting across the desert at nitrous-powered speeds, and an army of war drums beating away at the rear of the same vehicle, you know it's going to be insane. (Yes, even that is easily seen during those massive wide-angle action scenes as you may notice in the image above.) The action isn't just a few minutes of stunts, too. I would say about ninety percent of the movie is action, often with massive action scenes lasting fifteen to twenty minutes. What's in the other ten percent? Believe it or not, the story.
Even though it only makes up a very small part of the movie's time, the story in Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the clearest, understandable, and relatable plots I've experienced in an action movie in years. It's an emotion-filled story about escaping from slavery, friendship, and survival against all odds within a post-apocalyptic world. You don't even need to know what happened in past Mad Max movies since all the important parts are covered. Will you get even more out of this film with the knowledge of the predecessors? Sure, but they certainly aren't required watching.
The world this epic movie takes place in is shown in a way we've never experienced before, too. In the earlier movies it felt like they were just living in a desert with a few pockets of green, but in Fury Road we are shown that this is truly a dying world. We still don't know what the rest of the world is like, but it certainly feels like this movie is taking place in the final days of a life-supporting planet. This of course intensifies the direness of the calamity everyone's facing, and how important it is that they survive.
Although, I doubt the story would have been anywhere near as impactful if not for the extraordinary characters. All the important characters in this movie felt unique. There wasn't much time to give them a detailed history, but from what we learn through their conversations and actions, it feels like we know enough about each of them. They were also all highly entertaining to watch thanks to their crazy attitudes, beliefs, desires and blood-lust. There may be a few characters that you will have negative feelings toward, but those are all either by design or a just conflict of personality by the viewer. For example, I didn't care for a certain someone who kept wanting to give up, but those people exist today (far too many for my tastes) and need to represented in a world as diverse as Mad Max's.
Fury Road is also the first Mad Max movie that I would say that the acting was fantastic. Actually, the acting in the previous movies were pretty poor, so the acting being at this level is a wonderous treat. I honestly can't think of a single case where the acting felt off. Everyone in this movie felt perfectly natural in their roles, which is impressive since almost everyone had to come across as being insane in their own ways.
Some fans may complain about Tom Hardy's version of Max, though, but it isn't because of his acting. Sure Tom Hardy's version of Max was different from Mel Gibson's, but it felt like it was just the way it should have been for the direction of this movie. I'm actually thankful that we are getting a different version of the main character since I doubt the 1980s version would have been as easy to relate to as Tom Hardy's character was. Besides, Mel Gibson's portrayal of a half-insane man transferred over to the Lethal Weapon movies, which would have made Fury Road's Max feel more like a Lethal Weapon rip-off for most viewers.
I also loved the villains! So many movies make the villains feel so vile or repulsive that you can't wait to see their inevitable fall, but I never got that feeling from anyone in this fourth Mad Max movie. While I didn't agree with what they were doing, or what they were willing to do, I still could understand why. Whether it was for loyalty, religious beliefs, greed, or family, they all had sufficient reason to be hated, yet respected. Did I still want to see their defeat? Of course, but it certainly wasn't because they sickened me to the point that I just wanted to see them fail.
The only problem I have in this movie, although it was a very minor one, was the obvious lack of Australian accents. I don't think this was an acting problem since it was pretty universal throughout this movie. It was as if Max somehow found his way to an American Wasteland instead, and lost his accent along the way. Is it something that takes away from the experience? Absolutely not, but it does feel a bit odd to have a Mad Max movie without the accents.
Mad Max: Fury Road was unquestionably the most insane thrilling experience I've seen in a very, very long time. If you love action movies, and I'm talking about those fantastically memorable action movies we mainly saw in the 1980s and 1990s, you will have a blast with this movie. I can't wait for the next Mad Max movie, (two additional follow-ups have already been announced) and I fully expect to see action movies to be inspired by this movie for years. Bravo!!!