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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 13.7%
Average: 2.74%
Pretty Bad: 6.85%
Total Crap: 10.96%

7 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Mad Max: Fury Road
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by Erik Childress

"How Do You Outdo The Road Warrior? You Let George Miller Direct"
5 stars

If one were inclined to dismiss the newest Mad Max film (the first in 30 years), sight unseen, it may be a knee-jerk reaction to our pre-programmed disposition that everything we once cherished is being remade, re-imagined and repackaged. The summer of 2015 alone will bring us "Poltergeist", "Vacation", a "Terminator" film that literally goes back into the original and a "Jurassic Park" sequel that ignores both of its follow-ups as if they never happened. Roll your eyes back a full 360 though and recognize that whatever you want to call Fury Road with its substitute leading man and timeline-be-damned attitude, the film was conceived and directed not by just another studio lackey or an eager fan of the original trilogy, but by George Miller himself; the man who started it all. Now 70 years old upon completion of a project that began filming in the summer of 2012 (and conceptually pre-9/11), Miller has crafted the kind of visionary action epic that makes peers and contemporaries envious while holding audiences in rapture waiting for that first bit of silence when they can finally relinquish their breath.

Considering the tale of former cop and apocalyptic road warrior, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) as legend there is no need to worry about where this begins. Presumably in some period after the events of Thunderdome, Max is hunted down by a new society of survivors. The most viable source of energy in the land of the Citadel may still be gasoline, but blood is a close second. Used as a tap to quench the bloodline of Immortan Joe's (Hugh Keays-Byrne) Kurtz-like army of followers, Max finds himself literally connected to Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who like his brethren is fanatically eager to appease his King and honor him all the way into the next life of Valhalla.

On what should be a routine gas run into the desert sands, the lead driver, Furiosa (Charlize Theron) takes an unexpected detour setting off a deadly pursuit from the Immortan, Nux and Max who finds himself chained to the front of one of the vehicles. As the dust finally settles, Furiosa's grand plan is revealed to be not one of personal gain but of salvation for the imprisoned "breeders" (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoƫ Kravitz, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton) kept around for the sole pleasure of the Immortan and to remake the human race in his own image. As always, Max is reluctant to get involved in any cause but his own survival but at the same time is a man who has constantly struggled to reacquire the humanity he lost when his own world ended so long ago.

The original Mad Max trilogy has its roots in cinephile lore from its low-budget beginnings achieving cult favorite status to being anointed a legitimate action classic over the years. Predominantly cherished by the males of the species in that time it is easy to overlook the role that women played in the series from Virginia Hey's stoic Warrior Woman to Tina Turner's Aunty Entity, a "nobody" who on "the day after...had a chance to be somebody." What George Miller and fellow screenwriters Brendan McCarthy & Nick Lathouris have done here is to take those ideas to the next level. From Mad Max to Furiosa their names alone are linked to the only hinted-at backstories that represent a time of slaughter and oppression that each have taken up their own battles against. To classify Fury Road a mere "feminist" slant on a testosterone-fueled franchise unjustly just provides another label to further divide an experience that should be bringing us altogether.

There is a sparseness to the storytelling as dry as the landscape that it populates, but Miller's vision fills-in-the-blanks for anyone who feels they may be missing out on vital information from the previous films. With a titular hero that may have less than 20 lines of dialogue and a villain whose speech gives Hardy's Bane from "The Dark Knight Rises" a run for masked unintelligibility, it is still impossible to lose patience with a film that revs its engine from frame one and rarely stops. Yet miraculously allows enough breathing room to piece together the thematic implications of the five wives first presented as sexual objects (complete with the apocalypse's version of a wet T-shirt contest) to finding their saviors in the form of a partnership that is forced to stop running away and head straight back through the maelstrom to a world they had as much claim to before the fanatical beliefs of those who rule made them second-class citizens.

A Mad Max film, even the unfairly maligned third entry, would be unthinkable without its car stunts and unthinkable set pieces. Lest anyone believes that sexual politics will dominate the proceedings the way a bunch of lost children did Thunderdome, you can rest easy that Fury Road is for all intents and purposes, a two-hour chase picture. If the minimalist dialogue of its heroes can be guesstimated then it's safe to assume on first viewing that roughly 80-90 minutes of its 120-minute running time involves over a dozen vehicles in pursuit of one another, hand-to-hand combat or the desperation of escape in a scene that would have been right at home in William Friedkin's own truckin' masterpiece "Sorcerer." However seamlessly Miller integrates moments of CGI into the practical stuntwork, this is a far cry from just about any action film you have ever seen. With catapulting marauders, visible stunts without the crutch of slow motion and more gunfire than the series has ever seen before even the purest of action junkies and comic book fans will have to admit that Marvel is still well behind the curve of Miller's bravado.

Tom Hardy makes for a great Max and while he may always play second fiddle to Mel Gibson who originated the role, even Mel couldn't take center stage away from Theron. In recent years she has placed herself into the lore of Snow White and the Alien franchise, but the fierceness she embodies as Furiosa makes her a heroine for the ages. As the biggest comic book companies struggle to find a place in this world for its female characters, Furiosa may have just laid waste to them all with no greater superpower than her determination to do the right thing. Mad Max Fury Road manages to unseat "The Road Warrior" as the best film of the series (no small feat) and is the single best action picture I have seen since Jee-Woon Kim's The Good, The Bad, The Weird which itself already owed much of its grand finale to what George Miller did back in 1982. As the term "visionary" is tossed off all too frequently in the newest generations of filmmakers, Miller has been bringing it for five decades and is too often forgotten about. It only takes a few minutes of the Citadel's art direction and John Seale's glorious, equally breathtaking cinematography to realize that this is the kind of blockbuster filmmaking we just don't see nowadays.

Roger Ebert once described Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as "not so much a sequel but an equal," referring to its extraordinary action beats and revelatory excitement. As someone who was already ahead of the game in recognizing Miller's modus operandi in always trying to expand the universe of his films with his sequels ("Babe: Pig in the City" and the all-too-dismissed "Happy Feet Two" are further evidence of this) and gave "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" four stars, it is hard to believe that he wouldn't use that phrase again to describe Fury Road. Only now with an even greater meaning.

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originally posted: 05/14/15 01:27:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Cannes Film Festival For more in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/16/19 Tommy Soulless and dull. Beyond Thunderdome doesn't seem so bad anymore. 2 stars
6/11/19 bored mom Immortan Joe himself says it best: "MEDIOCRE" 3 stars
8/22/17 Mark Louis Baumgart So shiny. So chrome. I live! I die! I LIVE AGAIN!!! 5 stars
5/30/17 Danny Embarrasingly bad, feminist propaganda. 1 stars
10/30/16 morris campbell the plot was messy but still the best action movie of 2015 5 stars
9/09/16 Yaz What was the point of practical stunts if everything was sped up and looked videogame like? 1 stars
6/19/16 Oz1701 Stunts were amazing. Charlize was terrific. Plotting was terrible. 2 stars
1/21/16 DVM Absolutely terrible. An insult to my intelligence. 1 stars
10/27/15 Johnnyfaye Often called a masterpiece, for how simple it is, it's refreshing lack of CGI, fantastic. 5 stars
10/18/15 christefan26 Best movie I've scene in a long time and I watch movies constantly 5 stars
10/05/15 G. Best action movie this year. 5 stars
8/28/15 Billy34 Mad Max minus the screen presence, charisma and his balls. 1 stars
8/24/15 DillonG Incredibly fun from beginning to end! Everything I want out of a blockbuster. 5 stars
7/26/15 jd shit review, shit comments, great movie 5 stars
6/25/15 Cal L Mundane Max tags along with Mad Maxine and glamourous models 1 stars
6/23/15 wfibcdxjl USA 5 stars
6/09/15 TonyK The baddies chase the goodies ..thats it! 2 stars
6/08/15 Lisa H I can't remember the last time I got so bored with an action movie. 2 stars
6/06/15 mr.mike Good, not great, remake. 4 stars
6/02/15 Charles Tatum Throws you in and never lets up 5 stars
5/30/15 Nancy Love! Adrenaline-rushy, cool imagery, action-packed. 5 stars
5/29/15 Joey C The Road Warrior is still the best. This sucked and Tom Hardy was terrible. 1 stars
5/25/15 Damien240 Spectacular, exhilarating action, stunning visuals. Falls just short of a masterpiece. 5 stars
5/25/15 David Marsden Too much repetitive action, too much CGI, and Tom Hardy sucks. Mel is Max. 1 stars
5/22/15 David Hollingsworth An action thrill ride that actually delivers 4 stars
5/21/15 Toni Peluso Awesome. A spectacle in every wonderful way. 5 stars
5/20/15 Meep Good solid action film, but far from the masterpiece some want you to believe 4 stars
5/18/15 KingNeutron Unable to understand dialogue and I honestly got bored with it. 3 stars
5/17/15 Bob Dog Too much of a good thing... 2 stars
5/16/15 Slayer Feminist propaganda bullshit 1 stars
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  15-May-2015 (R)
  DVD: 01-Sep-2015

  14-May-2015 (15)

  14-May-2015 (MA)
  DVD: 01-Sep-2015

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