Hype is a dangerous thing. And hope, as Max says in “Fury Road,” “is a mistake.” Luckily for us we had Genius and all around badass director George Miller behind the newest entry into Mad Max. The outcome and final product are nothing less than the beautiful unflinching legendary carnage that embodies the prior entries in the series and gives us something that exceeds the hype.
Since 1999, fans of the George Miller created wasteland have waited for a release of the next chapter of “Mad Max.” It was perhaps the longest wait for the next installment of a franchise ever. If it wasn’t, it sure felt like it.
Back in 79’ Miller introduced a world of savage gangs on the roads of the outback and gave birth to the vengeful fury that would be “Mad Max.” A couple of years later he followed it up with “The Road Warrior” one of the few and rare cases where a sequel was better than the original. Miller changed the landscape in “The Road Warrior” to a wasteland where fuel was life and survival wasn’t a guarantee. The third entry “Beyond Thunderdome” explored more of the wasteland that Miller had built and solidified the series as its very own mythos.
Flash-forward a couple of decades and we finally get “Mad Max: Fury Road” and all I can say is holy shit it was worth the wait, and I already want more.
“Fury Road” opens with Max looking out over the wasteland. He stands with his Ford Interceptor and partner in vehicular crime behind him. It isn’t long before gangs of pale figures that resemble skeletons of the desert begin to pursue Max across the wasteland.
Once captured, Max is taken to a citadel built into a cliff side where he is tattooed for blood and organ donation. Max tries to escape briefly before being pulled back into his prison by those skeletal figures that we come to know as Warboys. That is all before the title credit burns across the screen accompanied by a music queue of grand menacing horns and strings.
The fourth entry in the series falls in perfectly with the rest of the films, while simultaneously upping the vehicular carnage up past 11. Much like with the prior films this one has very little dialogue from Max and relies heavily on the action as a plot driver. That is what makes “Fury Road” stand out as one of the best-goddamned things of 2015. The film doesn’t need dialogue or more substance. Instead of long scenes of dialogue where characters realize that they are in love or that they are oh, so existential, here Miller gives us long hypnotic action scenes that play out like an operatic fuel guzzling machine. It is a welcome replacement for tired scenes of long dialogue and self-realization.
Much like “The Road Warrior” had Max take a backseat to a film that was about The Feral Kid (Emil Minty). Fury Road does the same thing. This time around Furiosa (Charlize Theron) ends up being the main character. Max again ends up the reluctant spectator who assists in saving the day.
It isn’t about till half way through that I realized that Furiosa was Max in this movie. She had everything taken from her and was on her own path of redemption and revenge. Charlize Theron plays the role like a champion of the wasteland her part in the film is at times more courageous and unflinching than Max himself.
Speaking of Max Rockatansky, lets talk about how Tom Hardy is the guy made to play the part. Mel Gibson was hard boots to fill considering he helped create the legendary character. Tom Hardy doesn’t go in trying to make the character different or step away from the source material. He comes in and takes it from where Mel left off. He wont let any fans of the original films down.
It could most definitely be argued that this film belongs to the bad guys. Most of the richness in the tapestry that Miller wove in the wasteland belongs to the Warboys and their deity and leader Immortan Joe.
The Vikingesque Warboys, all live half-lives, with the belief that when they die that they will be taken to Valhalla. Each one of these guys lives off donor blood and are strictly forbidden to take part in drinking water (which Immortan Joe dubs “Aqua Cola”). In this patriarchy, water drinking is seen as weakness.
The People Eater and The Bullet Farmer, (actually their names) from Bullet Farm and Gas Town also join the chase to capture Furiousa. Immortan Joe and these two guys is the core of what makes Mad Max: Fury Road so damned crazy and awesome. From costume design to vehicle design everything tells a story about the characters without having to go into some drab lines of exposition. In a Thunderdomed shaped nutshell, that is what I love most about Miller and his series, He doesn’t feel he has to explain those things. The story keeps speeding on by leaving you wondering and trying to put some mythos together yourself after the credits roll.
I can’t say enough good things about this movie and found myself at a loss for words when I tried to think of something that I didn’t like. I guess the only thing that I finally found I didn’t like was that I couldn’t immediately watch this 88 more times. Go see it, breathe it in and join the pursuit in the most balls-to-the-wall, badass movie that you are likely to see for a long time.