While sitting in the theater watching the insanely brilliant/brilliantly insane “Mad Max: Fury Road”, keep in mind that the man behind all the madness is 70 years old. It took director George Miller, a man whose most recent movies involved cartoon penguins, to create something that makes the “Fast & Furious” series look like “Cannonball Run”.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is perhaps the most visceral action movie ever made. It’s manic, over the top, and nerve wracking. It’s also gorgeous, poetic, and touching. George Miller has crafted an all out cinematic masterpiece.
After a quick tie-in to 1979’s “Mad Max”, we meet Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), who will spend the next two hours running, driving, fighting, and grunting his way through nonstop warfare with Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his gang of War Boys. Initially, Max doesn’t have a name to the War Boys. Instead, he is what is called a “blood bag”, only supplying a sick Nux (Nicholas Hoult) with fresh blood.
Immortan Joe controls all the utilities for a place called the Citadel, where most people live in squalor, begging for mere bowls of water. He sends his most prized driver, Furiosa (Charlize Theron), off to bring back precious gasoline from Gas Town in her massive truck called the War Rig.
Furiosa has other things in mind, mostly involving escaping with Joe’s harem of wives, whom he essentially collects. Furiosa sneaks them out and hides them in her War Rig and once Joe realizes what is going on, the chase is on.
From that point on, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is relentless. Vehicles and human bodies flip and twist in the air like some sort of metallic, combustable ballet. Each sequence gets more and more insane, almost in an effort to one-up the mind-blowing action you only saw ten minutes prior.
The most amazing thing that Miller and his cinematographer, John Seale, have done is make all of this insanity viewable. The geography of these massive scale action scenes is never lost and it’s quite easy to follow along with everything that is happening. The quick push ins on characters faces add to the jarring aspect of “Fury Road” and turn the intensity up to levels that are almost unbearable.
While editing is not something many people notice in movies, it is impossible to ignore here. There are shots that seem to last less than a second, all tied seamlessly in by editor Jason Ballantine. If you are the type of person that gambles on Academy Award wins, go ahead and place the safe money on “Fury Road” for Best Editing as it is a lock.
While “acting” isn’t the main ingredient for “Fury Road”, it plays a big part in it. The three main characters played by Hardy, Theron, and Hoult are all wonderfully written and portrayed, even when they aren’t actually speaking.
Hardy may not say fifty words in the entire film, but Hoult more than makes up for that with his nonstop gibberish and crazed, drug-induced stupor almost stealing the entire movie. Hoult lays his English accent on really thick, making his accent that much more difficult to understand and adding to the bizarre world that Miller has plunged us in. He undergoes the biggest plot shift in the movie and if not for Hoult’s sweet, almost childlike presence, his entire storyline may not have worked.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” belongs to Hardy and Theron. Their actions speak much louder than their words, only adding to the mythology of this post-apocalyptic world.
It’s difficult to picture anyone but Theron as Furiosa. This is not only some of the best acting she has ever done, it’s one of the greatest action performances ever written and committed to film. She’s empowering and intimidating, even when she seems vulnerable. If fairness was truly important, Theron would be nominated for Best Actress, regardless of the fact that this will be deemed as “just an action movie” by Academy voter snobbery.
Tom Hardy has completed his transformation into Marlon Brando. Everything is at his disposal here, from his physicality down to a simple shrug or half grin that is potentially the movie’s finest moment. When Hardy speaks, you cannot take your eyes off him. When his reply to a character is a grunt, you somehow know exactly what said grunt means.
While Hardy is well known for his previous work by several moviegoers, “Mad Max: Fury Road” will make him a massive star.
George Miller initially started his plans for this movie in 1998. After several hiccups and delays, he has created an action masterpiece. It is a riotous action movie that will keep people pouring into theaters for weeks, all while tricking them into seeing a brilliant work of cinematic art. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is the new template for all future action movies to be judged.