Series creator George Miller has finally given the world another installment to truly enjoy with this hugely entertaining, stunt spectacular.
Don't worry about seeing any of the previous movies before arriving at the theater. You don't need to know the back catalog to enjoy this one. As Fury Road opens, we find Max, now played by Tom Hardy, as an unkempt man who is running from his demons, and visions of his past continue to haunt him. The Wasteland has gotten rougher, too. Rather than fighting over gasoline in this film, the persistent radiation has forced the world to struggle simply to survive.
There's not much a plot to dissect from Fury Road, either. The big villain is Immortan Joe who controls the area's water. With a breathing apparatus on his back and armor to hide his hideously deformed body, he looks like a monstrous, vaguely steampunk Darth Vader. Joe is chasing Charlize Theron's wonderfully named Imperator Furiosa for something he wants. From there, the film gets the engines started early, puts the pedal down and only briefly lets up for enough time to let the audience catch their breath.
Max might be the titular character, but there are probably text messages longer than all of his dialogue. The lack of exposition isn't a downside, though. Where many movies might try to cram in a story, Miller replaces it with huge explosions and roaring engines.
Easily half of the running time is dedicated to two, monumental chases through the desert with dozens of vehicles and bikes taking part in each of them. While the Wasteland of Fury Road might be aesthetically repulsive, this ranks among the most gorgeous looking action films in recent memory. Everything in this world is supposed to be cobbled together, and it all looks so real on the screen. Take the cars for example: you can spot a Mercedes-Benz grille here or Cadillac fins there, but nothing is kept stock. Instead, these machines are made to survive in this dystopia with massive tires and huge blowers sticking through the hoods.
One of the high points of the original Mad Max was the fantastic stunt work, which has carried over to this latest film. Compared to other modern action movies, it's immensely impressive to see physical objects interacting in so many of the stunts. There are definitely moments of CG too like the sandstorm set piece from the trailer as the most egregious example, but everything else looks great.
If the film has one weak point, it's a story point during a later lull in the action that doesn't feel entirely earned or really make much sense. However, this decision sets up the fantastic, climatic chase that brings the picture to a close, so the fault is easy to ignore. Just don't think too hard. In fact, that's probably a good message for approaching the entire movie.
Fury Road comes off more as an experience as opposed to a traditional film. The focus here is placed on presenting high-octane action through amazing cinematography for as long as possible. Some of the characters exist simply to look cool on the big screen, but Miller isn't trying to tell a nuanced tale of surviving post-society. Rather, this is a belated chance for Mad Max to return to the highs of the first two installments in the series.
If you end up checking out Mad Max: Fury Road this weekend, let us know in Comments what you think. Warner Bros. has put out several great trailers for the movie, but the one below does the best job of nailing the feel without giving too much away.