The Mad Max films hold a special place near and dear to my heart. Many a lazy Saturday afternoon was spent watching the original “Mad Max” and “The Road Warrior” with a cat on my lap and some Twizzlers (If you were wondering why “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” was excluded…well just see the movie) while Mel Gibson chased down crazy biker gangs. The movies were incredible and really formed such an undeniable part of my film canon. So when the original director George Miller announced that “Mad Max” would be returning to the big screens, I was highly dubious. I did not think that it was right for a movie to have a sequel nearly 30 years after the original trilogy ended. I also was concerned with how Tom Hardy would replace Mel Gibson, in what was arguably Gibson’s most iconic role. Finally, was Miller game for a doing movie like “Mad Max” when in the past couple of years he had stuck to children’s movies? To say I was skeptical would have been stating the obvious.
Thankfully, I was wrong. So wonderfully wonderfully wrong.
In the words of Simon Pegg’s character from “Hot Fuzz”, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a no-holds barred adrenaline thrill ride and the type of thing that makes movies the greatest art form in the entire world. Miller not only stays true to the original “Mad Max” series while creating something that is wholly new and unique within the canon.
One of the ways this movie works compared to other similar “reboots” is that it remains true to the original work without dumb-ing down its message. The movie opens with a brief exposition about who he is, and what type of world he lives in. He then gets taken to a place called The Citadel which is under the rule of the tyrannical Immortan Joe (portrayed wonderfully by who Hugh Keays-Byrne, who portrayed the Toecutter in the first “Mad Max”). After Imperiator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) runs off with a big rig tanker and Joe’s wives, Max becomes embroiled in a high speed pursuit between Joe’s Army and Furiosa.
Many critics have pointed out the relationship between Furiosa and Max and how it is unlike anything that is present in modern Hollywood Films, and I tend to agree. If this was a modern day Hollywood blockbuster, Furiosa and Max would first at hate each other, but throughout the movie end up falling in love and having a climatic kiss that would add nothing to the plot. Thankfully, none of this happens. Furiosa and Max’s relationship is one of mutual trust and distrust: Is Max entirely trustworthy in helping Furiosa and Joe’s Wives get out of Joe’s clutches? Is Furiosa herself trustworthy? These are questions that Millers asks of the audience allows the audience to come up with their own answers.
The idea of Miller thinking the audience is smart is also unique in this day and age of Hollywood blockbusters and reboots. I’m always struck by how many movies think their audience is stupid and needs to be spoon-fed tireless exposition or characters in order to make us engaged with the movie we are watching. In contrast to this attitude, Miller takes a much better approach: He knows that the audience can figure out who are the important characters, what are their back stories, and what is going on without spoon-feeding information. A perfect example of this is the character of Furiosa: We know that she has led a hard-life by missing an arm, we know that she is against Immortan Joe because she is kidnapping his wives, and we know that she will play an important part to the plot once she meets Max. I cannot tell anyone enough how refreshed I was that a movie that treat its audience like cattle but instead treated them as they are smart paying customers who go to the movies to be engaged and entertained, and this is where I get to one of my favorite parts…
The car chases. Holy Mother of *#(@&^$!
Seriously, that is guy playing a damn two headed guitar on a car while flame throwers shoot out of it. And it was done without CGI. How in the hell did he do that? That is the most Heavy Metal thing ever. Even if you had every Metal band in history writing a screenplay while high on drugs, they still could not come up with something like this. Did I mention that those were all real cars too without a reliance on CGI? If the Academy Awards had any balls, they would give every Oscar to George Miller, Immortan Joe, and the Doof Warrior, and then hereby promptly cancel the Academy Awards because every movie after this will suck.
In all seriousness though, I go to the movies to feel as though I am apart of another world; there is nothing better than losing yourself in a movie and then going out after two hours back into the real world. There is something gratifying about being taken out of yourself to see your dreams and things in your imagination that is on that big screen, and “Mad Max: Fury Road” does this in spades.
P.S.: Make sure to see it in the big screen in IMAX and 3D. It just makes a better movie even greater and makes it more of an event.
Final Review: 5 out of 4 stars.