Mad Max: Fury Road - MAXimum Overdrive

Mad Max: Fury Road
Directed by: George Miller

Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Run Time: 120 minutes

A masked man in a red jumpsuit rides on a truck lined with row after row of massive speakers. As the fleet of trucks pursue their target, he shreds on a double neck guitar that also happens to shoot fire as a squad of drummers furiously pound away on taiko drums. He bounces around effortlessly on bungee cables while his riffs lead the charge into battle. Oh and also a guy named Max gets mad, meets a woman named Furiosa and the best chase scenes I’ve ever seen in my life happen. 

It took 30 years but George Miller is back at the helm of a Mad Max movie and it’s absolutely fucking crazy. How often has a director returned to a franchise after time away from it and it didn’t turn out to be complete and utter trash? Ridley Scott with Prometheus? It’s a gorgeous movie, but it doesn’t make a single bit of god damned sense. Spielberg to Indiana Jones? Nope. Lucas to Star Wars? Triple nope. Imagine my surprise when 2 Babe's and 2 Happy Feet's later, George Miller returns to a vision of his that has inspired virtually all forms of post-apocalyptic media for over three decades and creates what will undoubtedly be my favorite movie of the year. 

Max (Tom Hardy) is wandering through the desert wasteland of what I assume is what Australia looks like already. He wanders alone, haunted by memories of people he failed to save, guided only by his instinct to survive. He’s captured and used as a human blood bag by Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a member of the race known as Half-Lives. In this wasteland, the only source of water is the Citadel, ruled by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and a bunch of mutated weirdos that are right at home for fans of the franchise. Joe sends Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) on a routine gasoline run, but when he realizes she’s changed course and has made off with his wives (his sex slaves he uses for breeding), he rounds up a fleet of cars and a bunch of bonkers shit happens for 2 hours. 

If you’re like me and you spend a lot of the precious few hours you have in your daily life on the Internet reading about what men’s right activists have to say about things, you’ll know that Max isn’t really the star of the movie. You’d also know that if you’d ever seen a Mad Max movie before in your life, but that’s probably the feminist agenda clouding my judgement. Shit, Max spends the entire first chase of the movie chained up on the front of Nux’s car.

The real main character is Furiosa and her robot arm, and her mission is to liberate Joe’s wives (i.e. gorgeous fuckslaves) and return to her birthplace. In a post-apocalyptic world of mutants, deformed monsters, and bondage gear, these five women are enslaved chastity belt-bound breeding stock who are coveted for their beauty, health, and the fact that they don’t look like sex monsters dreamed by an insane elderly Aussie.

In any other movie these five women are the MacGuffin. They’re there to be scantily clad rape bait (Chekov’s Cum, if you will) and rescued by the hero. Max shows up with his muscles glistening, says a one liner, kills the bad guy, and probably fucks all five of them at once thanks to the radiation giving him a five pronged dong. Each one of them act like human beings and have character. Some of them cower in terror when they hear Joe’s fleet approaching, one is Stockholm Syndromed and sprints towards his truck and screaming that he’ll understand and take her back, one uses her pregnancy as a weapon, knowing he won’t shoot at their tanker and risk killing the baby. They are all human beings reacting and making decisions, not T&A to be rescued by Bane in a shitty Australian accent (seriously, it’s really bad). Max doesn’t save shit; he doesn’t even want them in the car with him. His only instinct is survival and he would have left them stranded alone in the desert if Furiosa’s rig didn’t have a killswitch on it. Like the earlier movies, Max is there for the ride. He doesn’t pick a side or have a dog in the fight. All he knows is he was in the Citadel before and it ended with him strapped to the front of a car and used as a human blood bag so he’d rather not go back any time soon. 

...and that's being generous 

Fury Road also gives the best villain in the franchise: Immortan Joe. The actor who played Toecutter, the big main villain of the original Mad Max 35 years ago returns as a sickly old man who is crammed into his fake muscle suit (decorated in military medals, of course), dons the coolest mask I’ve seen in any movie in years, and speaks to the huddled, mutated masses. He enslaves children to serve as his cannon fodder, hooks women up to suction cups like cows to produce “Mother’s Milk” and also just so happens to control the entire supply of water. Mother fucker sprays water from the top of the mountain for like 30 seconds and watches as the fly-covered, deformed rush towards it and hold up empty buckets before turning it off, then warns them about not getting addicted to “Aqua Cola.” What a glorious piece of shit. 

The Dark Knight Returns would be 50% better if Bane had Joe's voice and mask

Let’s stop dicking around here and talk about the action. More importantly, let’s talk about how this movie is a legitimate contender for “greatest action movie of all time.” That’s not hyperbole, that’s not Internet hype machine hivemind. Everything about the chases in this movie are sublime perfection. There are no quick cuts, there’s no reliance on CGI, no shaky cam. It’s mostly practical effects (CGI mostly used to crop out stunt rigs and wires and such) in the hands of an artist. You know all those things fat guys on the Internet like me complain about over and over again? None of that is here. Every car flip. Every explosion. It’s real. It gives the movie a sense of weight and a sense of danger. It’s been so long since I’ve wondered how they fuck they did something in a movie because the answer is usually “a guy on a computer rendered it.” I wondered that same thing for about 2 straight hours. 

It’s pure gorgeous mayhem free of studio notes or reliance on computers. It’s visual cinema in the hands of a complete fucking maniac who has hand crafted a cacophony of twisted metal. The most impressive part of the chases (besides the fact that they even exist in the first place) is that not once did I ever get lost in them. The final chase is one of the most insane action set pieces I’ve ever seen in my life and not for a single second did I lose track of any of the characters. You see every painstakingly crafted detail of every machine, you follow it clearly through the most mesmerizing action scenes you and I may ever see in our lifetimes, and every bit of it feels real. 

The action isn’t just a spectacle, but a means to drive the plot, progress characters, and world build. Fury Road could be a silent film. You put a couple of title cards between chases and you don’t even have to worry about dubbing over Max’s 20 or so words of dialogue before shipping it off to China to break even on the budget. It flies by at 2 hours, leaving no time for scenes of clunky dialogue or spoon-fed exposition. What a novel concept to learn about a character through their actions instead of them saying what they’re feeling out loud to each other. That makes me feel angry. 

Pictured: the matriarchy holding down men

Nobody sits down, takes a deep breath, and explains how Joe came to power or how the world deteriorated to the state its in now. Instead the universe Fury Road exists in is filled to the brim with excruciating detail on every single piece of machinery and trusts you to piece things together. Miller and a team of artists drew out the entire storyboard (about 3,500 panels) before sitting down and writing the screenplay because he wanted the visuals to come first. If nothing else, you can say without a shadow of a doubt he succeeded at that. It’s so weird to watch a movie and get treated like an adult who can see two images and make a mental connection as to how they relate to one another. Normally the only connection I make is that Optimus Prime must stop Galvatron, but not until I stop this thirst by quenching it with an ice cold Bud Light while listening to the hottest Jay Z track on my Beats Pill. 

The world Miller creates isn't just full of detail, but loaded with rich, saturated colors. How often is a post apocalyptic landscape nothing but grey on top of gray with a dash of brown for texture. The movie is gorgeous. 90% of the movie takes place among one backdrop: brown sand juxtaposed with bright blue skies. Everything "pops" out of the frame. Nothing blends into the scenery or is hard to make out like it would be in the bleak, rainy grimdark Blade Runner future. The aesthetic furthers the insane action by putting it front and center and making sure it's always the focal point. 

In the future there is only brown and bloom

After days of letting this movie roll around in my brain I still can't believe it exists. I can't believe a studio gave 150 million dollars to a crazy old man in the desert to shoot utter madness for 120 days. In a world where everything has to have guaranteed mass appeal to be backed by a major studio, I choose to believe that nobody from Warner Bros saw a frame of it until it was done. He was filming out in the middle of Namibia, which it turns out is a real country and not a Star Wars planet, and no executive could be bothered to fly out there and oversee production. I imagine every call with the studio was eerily similar to every scene in an 80's teen comedy where the main character is getting a phone call from his parents asking how he's doing with the house to himself all weekend and in the background there's a crazy party going on, except instead of high schoolers doing keg stands it's motorcycles flying over a massive tanker and throwing grenades at it. 

Most of my positive reviews boil down to whether or not I have fun watching it. I'm very forgiving if I'm grinning like an idiot throughout a majority of it, bad acting be damned. I didn't just have fun, I had a rush of adrenaline I haven't gotten from an action movie since The Raid 2. I don't think my roommate appreciated the way in which I drove home after it ended, but long story short we got home and that's all that matters. If he wanted to captain the ship then maybe he should have offered to pay for the tickets. I thought I was paying for Mad Max not Driving Miss Daisy. I got home ("safely"), made dinner, and sat down to write down my thoughts on the experience I had just had. 

My initial impression was "Fuck." Followed by "Dude. Fuck." I couldn't mentally unpack the sheer amount of bonkers my body had just ingested. I want to say more about the chases. I want to talk about them until you're tired of hearing me talk about them and then go find someone else and start the process over again. In the end the more I talk about them the more it sounds like a child describing playing with toys. "Then the bike jumps over the car and it's like boom boom pchoo pchoo and then he throws a grenade stick and the spikey car goes kaboooom." 

There's just so much to love. The porcupine cars would be the coolest part of any other movie and I completely forgot about them until someone else referenced them. I recommended Furious 7, but if at any point in the movie Dom pulled out a Dodge Charger that was covered front to back in spikes it would be the greatest moment in that entire series. In this movie I completely forgot about it by the time the credits rolled. I didn't even mention the tribe of deadly grandmas that show up like 90 minutes into the damn thing. 

Imagine a movie so good that this monster is forgettable 

I'm so happy I not only live in a world where this movie exists, but this movie can be included in scholarly debates about patriarchy and feminism. I'm not going to lie, 90% of that is because I would love to be in that classroom where it's introduced as a movie about strong females and then they see the fire guitar guy. I'd be lying if I wasn't at least a little bit tickled about Joss Whedon, the guy hailed for strong female characters, being run off Twitter for Age of Ultron and the guy behind Lord Humungus, Master Blaster, and Happy Feet is being hailed for his progressive views. Sometimes everything lines up perfectly. 

I am not a very intelligent man and have a shockingly short attention span to match. Not only will I be watching this movie over and over again, but you can believe I will watch every single minute of behind the scenes footage they cram onto the blu ray. Remember, Miller spent 15 years trying to make this. Find me one other movie coming out this year whose production screeched to a halt because of the start of the Iraq War and Mel Gibson calling a cop "sugar tits." There was a point where the desert they were going to film in got rain for the first time in decades and vegetation started growing and Miller threw up his hands and said "fuck it, I'll make it animated." It's been around so long that Heath Ledger was originally going to play Max, so I guess you can make that twice now Tom Hardy has taken over for him. 

I can't imagine how many endless hours it took to film even one shot in one chase, much less this entire movie. I'm probably going to see it in theaters again just to let the movie wash over me entirely because I was so overwhelmed by what was going on. There were multiple occasions where I'd be completely taken out of the movie because all I could think about was how in the fuck they even began to film that. The amount of timing, set up, and patience it would take to film even one of these chases is found in only the maddest of the mad, and luckily for all of us George Miller is fucking insane. He's an artist and this movie is his masterpiece. 

And this is the Mona Lisa

It's 2 hours of beautiful chaos. It's insane. It's ridiculous. It's redonculous. It's unforgettable. It's the best thing to happen in my dumpster life in as long as I can remember. I can't imagine I'll be as excited for anything else this year except maybe Star Wars, and that's just because it's Star Wars. I'd skip a funeral to be at The Force Awakens at midnight. Not only will this more than likely be my favorite movie of the year, it could very easily end up being one of my favorite movies in the last decade. It sets impossible standards for other movies to live up to. It's not just my favorite Mad Max movie, it might end up being my favorite action movie, period. 

Miller injecting his batshit insane style into some of the best action I've ever seen will constantly serve as a hilarious reminder that Warner Bros shitcanned his Justice League movie and decided Zak Snyder was the better visionary to bring that world to life. I wonder what I'll get tired of first: re-watching Fury Road or making fun of DC. All enjoyment aside, throwing "fun" completely out the window and looking at this movie purely from a technical standpoint, I honestly don't think we'll ever see a film with practical effects like this again - unless of course this makes enough money for Miller to go through with the sequel he already has a screenplay for. 

If you don't like this movie, we're not friends. It's really that simple, cut and dry. Life is short and I will not waste any of the limited time I have on this planet with someone who doesn't appreciate a work of art when it's sitting right there in front of them. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to put the soundtrack on while doing mundane tasks around the house. You call it doing the dishes, I call it spiking plates on the ground and daring my roommate to say shit about it. Valhalla awaits me, Kevin. 

Strong Recommend
Five Stars 
A+++++ Seller Would Buy From Again


  1. This movie was amazing. It's proof that a director can actually make a film according to their own vision no matter the odds. Art should make you pumped up, and this movie (and your review) absolutely did that for me.

    Great review!

    1. Great review! Not amazing movie! I give it thumbs down. You say it’s art, then it should have been a silent movie with a soundtrack or YouTube video or a music video. Really, the actors clearly were not enunciating, so why even give them any lines. The movie doesn't explain itself at all. I totally disagree with all the critics except the ones that gave it thumbs down! I know you critics read a synopsis & plot summary to understand what's going on which the audience does not get. No one at the movie theater gave me plot summary to read before I saw the movie. I suspect the critics would not know what is going on either without this promotional package. There is no clear explanation of what is transpiring. Am I supposed to understand what's going on by osmosis? There was no clapping or cheering from the audience when it ended. It did kind of fall flat at the end. I know most guys love this type of movie, it's all action, no plot, no humor, no suspense, no imagination, titillating nudity - just a visual meaningless feast, and it is all climax, climax, and climax! No subtlety and nothing that vaguely resembles any intelligence. I spoke with one guy who saw the movie last weekend & I asked him about the plot. He says there was no plot and you don’t go to this kind of movie expecting any plot. He enjoyed the action and so did his family. I expect this is the ‘typical’ audience. Z. Lee

  2. This movie is honestly, terrible, I watched bored the whole time and couldn't care less who died or anything, I saw the fifty shades of grey movie and it would be a coin flip on which on I'd torture myself to watch again. The stupid guitar guy was sooo stupid. Worse Movie Ever!!!!!!!