“Mad Max: Fury Road” is the most thrilling, original, visionary, and bonkers movie of 2015. This is made even more astounding by the fact it was made by a director rebooting his own 30-year-gone franchise after spending the interim time making kids’ movies like “Happy Feet” and “Babe: Pig in the City.”
Mad Max was a 1980s icon and the movie launched Mel Gibson into international superstardom. But while Mel was the face of the franchise, the mastermind behind all the insanity was writer/director George Miller.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future, these movies were wild and unpredictable, yet somehow amidst all the chaos, they found a space for the best of humanity to shine through.
With “Fury Road,” Max is played by Tom Hardy, an actor known for his physical presence and a spark behind his eyes that makes him the perfect 21st century Road Warrior.
This movie is essentially a pulse-pounding 120-minute car chase with only the lightest touch of CGI; meaning it is filled to the brim with flying stuntmen and tumbling vehicles.
But while you may want to dismiss this movie as little more than spectacular carnage, this film is actually slyly subversive and perhaps the most feminist action movie ever made.
You could make a strong argument the real hero of this movie is Imperator Furiosa, as played by Charlize Theron. Furiosa is a one-armed convoy driver in the employ of ruthless warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who keeps a stable of nubile young women as his own personal breeding stock.
These women decide they have had enough and they are able to get Furiosa to smuggle them out in a no-holds-barred break for a faraway Shangri-La that may or may not exist.
Max is captured by Joe’s men at the beginning of the movie and is thrown into the mix after being strapped to the hood of a pursuit vehicle while giving an on-the-go blood transfusion to one of Joe’s ailing warriors named Nux (Nicholas Hoult).
The ladies don’t really need Max to save them, but they aren’t going to stop him from reluctantly lending a hand to their high-speed jailbreak either.
So, yes, this movie is breathless and, yes, it gives you a little something to think about, but what really makes it stand out is how it is just packed to the gills with crazy details. This is a fully realized world that never stops to let you get your bearings.
There is so much craziness here you can’t possibly take it all in in one sitting. When you have a massive vehicle with a team of drummers in the back and in the front stands a blind guitarist in front of a wall of amps, whose guitar also doubles as a flamethrower, you just go with it for no other reason other than it is awesome.
That really kind of sums up the whole movie. If you strap yourself in and let yourself just go along for the ride, you might just get your mind blown. And if not, at the very least you are going to be thoroughly entertained.
Just keep in mind Miller is 70 years old and he just produced a movie the vast majority of directors half his age wouldn’t have the cajones to make. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the end of Mad Max.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout and for disturbing images.