A thoughtful, character-driven, and batshit insane film where cars crash and explode with the majesty and grace of Opera.
Mad Max: Fury Road will make you forget every great blockbuster of the last five years, leaving only the sheer madness of director George Miller’s vision as your go-to answer for what constitutes a truly great blockbuster/action film.
Like an adrenaline shot to the heart, it’s a two hour long thrill ride, stripped of unnecessary plot baggage, with its story told just through small, infrequent scenes of dialogue, and in the beats of the myriad action sequences: a night-time slog through a marsh, a three-person tussle over a shotgun, or a death-defying charge into a desert storm. Even on the small-screen, it’s hard to imagine a more fun or invigorating time at the movies.
Max (Tom Hardy) is a loner still haunted by the deaths of his wife and child. But when he’s kidnapped by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his War Boys (including Nicholas Hoult’s Nux), he finds himself dragged into the escape of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who’s smuggling the Five Wives of Joe to freedom, somewhere safe and green outside of the desert wasteland.
This is an effortlessly minimalist plot, allowing Miller to dedicate free creativity to his world, characters, and action. Everything about the world of Fury Road is insane and creative, and even the henchmen of Immortan Joe who exist for five minutes, only to be blown up, manage to be startlingly memorable.
However the best thing about Fury Road is how, underneath the perfect manly night-in film, is a deep and powerful story about women and men banding together to save themselves, and then society, from the patriarchy. Max’s name may be the title, and Hardy is superb as him, but Theron’s Furiosa is the real hero. The disabled, tough-as-nails and vulnerable woman is just stunning, as are the Five Wives themselves, imbuing real depth of character into people who could have easily been tropes. For a film with such a minimalist story, it’s remarkable how great the characters and actors are. So much so that, even in a film with money shots coming left, right and centre, some of its most memorable moments are purely character driven; calm amongst a storm.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), directed by George Miller, is released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray by Warner Bros.. Certificate 15.