SPOILER WARNING: BASIC DESCRIPTION OF THE PREMISE OF THE MOVIE.
I just got out of the theater after seeing an early screening of Mad Max: Fury Road. I was very lucky to have this opportunity at Wizard World in Philadelphia. I've been pumped about this movie for a long time. Mad Max is just one of those perfect action movie franchises that sticks in your craw. I don't mean "perfect" like the movies are all perfect. Road Warrior is a classic. Thunderdome is fun and one of my favorite movies to quote, but it is definitely dumb. I mean that Mad Max has a perfect premise and setting. There are many movies that try to do the post-apocalyptic wasteland as well as Mad Max. You can see its influence everywhere from the Fallout games to music videos by Tupac Shakur. The setting of Mad Max is certainly hopeless and bleak, but there is this liberated grandeur to it. In a world where society can't protect you, the strong wear costumes and take tribal names to build themselves into legends. Lord Humungus. Master Blaster. It is a world where I can absolutely believe that somebody would take the time to put unnecessary spikes on everything they own. It is a world where it makes perfect sense that the war party of spiked trucks contains a heavy metal guitarist. Max Rockatansky has always been the bewildered everyman turned reluctant savior, and it is a combination that works very well.
Fury Road is an absolutely worthy successor to Road Warrior. It is everything you could want in a Mad Max movie. I will say that it's not a particularly smart/intellectual movie (it doesn't have to be). The dialogue is pretty melodramatic, which is fair, because the bad guy literally wears a skull everywhere. The action sequences are some of the best of the year. The premise is fun, and like any good Mad Max movie, Max is not the driving force. He stumbles into somebody else's plot, and is forced to stay until it resolves. Tom Hardy is appropriately understated in his portrayal of the classic antihero. Charlize Theron is great as the awesomely named one-arm badass "Imperator Furiosa." She is a trusted warrior for a local clan who has gone rogue and betrayed her master, the ruthless Immortan. Furiosa is rescuing a group of women enslaved as "breeders" when the imprisoned Max tags along in their escape. The mostly female cast also means it's the first Mad Max movie to pass the Bechdel test (multiple times and not by technicality). That doesn't mean anything, but I thought it was pretty cool. The entire movie is basically one long car chase, in the best way possible. It almost feels like a vehicle turret mission in a video game. Even when our heroes have to stop, we know that Immortan and his armada of spiked trucks are minutes behind them. Director George Miller took the best sequences of Road Warrior and stretched them out into a glorious two-hour epic. It's explosive and bloody and deeply satisfying in a visceral sort of way. I highly recommend seeing it in IMAX theaters if you get the chance.
This review was written by Billy Arrowsmith. For more Billy Arrowsmith opinions, you can follow me on Twitter.