For me, Mad Max: Fury Road was a very surprising addition to my summer movie line-up. I’d never seen any of the Mel Gibson Mad Max films (still haven’t), and I thought the trailer looked way too bizarre for my taste. So I wrote it off, gradually becoming more and more annoyed each time I saw one of the increasingly crazy trailers. Imagine my shock when dozens of insanely positive reviews started rolling in, and I had to do a double take. “Okay,” I thought, “maybe I’ll give it a chance.”
So that’s exactly what I did—bought a ticket to see what all the fuss was about. And you know what? Fury Road is nuts. Absolutely freaking bananas. But for the most part, it’s in a really awesome way. While I’m not sure if it’s the movie of the century that everyone else seems to think it is, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think I would enjoy it even more if I got the chance to see it again. Because there’s a certain amount of…adjustment you need to do when you start this movie. But let’s get to that in the review. 😉
Synopsis: “In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb
The Good: The action. And the action. Oh, and how about that action, huh? This film is non-stop, go-go-go craziness that barely gives you time to breathe—and, really, I mean that in a good way. It seems like a lot of people are praising Fury Road as one of the best action flicks in years, and after what I saw, that’s probably not a stretch. Because not only is it intense, epic action, but it relies on surprisingly little CGI (apparently more than 80 percent of the effects, stunts, make-up, and sets are real). It’s refreshing, and I dig it. And the leads! The leads are fantastic. Tom Hardy steps into the role of the title character, and he plays him quite well. Max is a little kooky, haunted by visions of his dead daughter and tortured past, yet he ultimately means well. He’s one of those guys who’s tough but secretly sweet. He doesn’t say much, but what he says, he says sincerely, and I like that about him. Really, the term “actions speak louder than words” could be applied to Max because he acts a lot more than he speaks. I was surprised to discover that he almost feels more like a supporting character next to badass leading lady Furiosa (Charlize Theron). I’ve always liked Theron, and I absolutely adore her in roles like this. Let’s be real: as pretty as Chris Hemsworth is, Theron is the best thing about Snow White and the Huntsman by far. She’s just as awesome if not more awesome as Furiosa, a tough-as-nails commander out to rescue villainous Immortan Joe’s (Hugh Keays-Byrne) “breeders,” which is basically a polite way of saying “sex slaves.” The film pretty much becomes Furiosa’s story, giving Fury Road a pleasantly surprising “girl power” vibe. In short, Furiosa is the Full Metal Bitch of this summer, and it’s great (see this review of Edge of Tomorrow if you’re confused). Oh, and before I forget, I simply have to mention Nicholas Hoult as sweet, sad Nux. A character brainwashed by the Immortan, Nux comes to see things differently. He’s a nice sidekick for Max, Furiosa, and co. All of these characters are part of a thoroughly imagined, bonkers post-apocalyptic world. The setting itself could be its own character. On top of everything, Fury Road has a pretty solid story for an action film. Despite its pure insanity, Fury Road just…works.
Favorite Scene: I’m torn between two, so… 1) When the man with the flaming guitar first shows up, simply because it is absolutely one of the most ridiculous yet weirdly wonderful things I have ever seen. 2) When we meet Furiosa’s tribe, and it’s a group that includes some of the baddest chicks ever.
The Bad: For all its greatness, I will say this about Fury Road: I had a helluva time adjusting to it. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen any of the other Mad Max films. Maybe it’s just an acquired taste. Either way, it took me a while to realize that it’s meant to be ridiculous, accept that, and then settle in and enjoy it. Once I did all that, I was golden. But for some, this might not be such a smooth process. In fact, I can think of plenty of people I know who wouldn’t be able to adjust to it at all. It’s a very…particular aesthetic. Let me put it this way: one character’s look includes a golden nose guard, elephantine feet, and nipples rings with a chain connecting them. He’s…um…quite the looker. It’s bizarre. So if you’re on the fence, I’d advise you to do some research before committing to a movie ticket. Because Fury Road really does just throw you into the story without a lot of explanation, and there are still some unanswered questions at the end—especially about Max himself. I found that a little irksome since I knew absolutely zero about Max going into the thing. Hopefully we’ll learn more from the three other Mad Max movies Hardy has teased.
Least Favorite Scene: Some dude gets his eyes blown out…and doesn’t even realize his eyes are gone. Like, “Just lost my eyes—nbd, you guys!” I realize these post-apocalyptic folks are pretty tough, but c’mon. I don’t care who you are—if you just lost your eyes, you wouldn’t just walk it off. I could accept a lot of the film’s silliness (because you pretty much have to), but this one made me say out loud, “Really?!”
To Sum It Up: If you’ve seen the Mad Max films, you’ll probably love this. If you’re a big fan of action films and can adjust to a certain degree of weirdness, you’ll probably love this. If you’re a big fan of Hardy or Theron, you’ll probably love this. Heck, if you’re a feminist you’ll probably love this for its delightful girl power message. But if the trailers made you go, “No way,” I’d look into this one a bit more before buying a ticket. Mad Max is an action-packed blast, but it’s also very odd. Do with that information what you will.
My Grade: A-