It's really hard to describe Mad Max: Fury Road. It is first and foremost a film you need to experience. No amount of words and descriptions can really help you understand or prepare you for the film's hellish pace, spellbinding visuals and intensity.
In a world where we are bombarded with run of the mill disaster movies, comic book inspired films that have became repetitive and tedious since the novelty wore off a a while back, forgettable action flicks with interchangeable plots starring the same actors over and over again, mark my words when I tell you - Mad Max: Fury Road is a miracle.
I haven't seen any of the previous Mad Max movies but it doesn't matter - what that movie does is that it takes you in and drops you - mercilessly - right in the center of the events in this bizarre, unique world. We follow Max, a drifter who is captured and used as a blood doner. We also follow Furiosa, the soldier of the film's villain Immortan Joe, who goes rogue. Soon Max and Furiosa join forces and try to survive. And everything is shot in a way that is so dynamic and detailed, you feel like you are aboard the war rig with them
The film is essentially a relentless, impossibly intense chain of action sequences, or a one long car chase if you will - it never really let's go of the tempo, the threat of capture and suspense is always present, even in the quieter, poignant character moments. What is so unique about Mad Max: Fury Road is the balance of the information - there is very little exposition here, George Miller simply shows you things and you have to deal with them. We know just enough to care about the ones being chased and fear the ones chasing them, but there is still enough of unknown to make everyone involved fascinating and enigmatic.
There are no explanations given behind many curious and odd elements - the weird chrome substance sprayed on one's lips, what exactly happened to the world that it became such a wasteland, what happened to Max, what is the reason for weird deformations. But the answers to these questions wouldn't really change anything and given how little we know about the world and the characters we see, the film remains mysterious, fun and unpredictable.
Another thing is that the film is so gripping you cannot take your eyes off the screen and your mind doesn't have the time to go "Hey, where is your arm?" while looking at Furiosa.
But seriously, what's up with the arm?
What I also loved about Fury Road is that it had R rating but it didn't really have that much violence or gory stuff. There was some nudity, some unpleasant implications and few moments of gore but it was tamer than most R rated movies. However, I felt because this film was made with R rated category intent, Miller didn't have to worry about toning anything down. In the effect the film is delightfully out of control and doesn't feel overly calculated like most movies with gore, violence or nudity feel these days, when whilst watching them you can actually sense the director's residual nervousness over what MPAA makes out of this.
The film has very strong feminist element - Furiosa is helping in the escape of the five "wives" of Immortan Joe. They are not damsels in distress, rather damsels in horrible situation who stand up and decide to find a better life. What's fantastic is that these are not some incapable meek creatures but girls who are bursting with anger and their desire to rid themselves of male dominion.
Those wives (played by models Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Courtney Eaton and Abbey Lee, Lenny's daughter Zoë Kravitz and Elvis' granddaughter Riley Keough), contrasted with the wasteland of sand, dirt and violence look otherworldly. Though they are supporting characters, they are distinct and we root for each of them. Let it speak volumes that you remember more about the wives than any of the dwarfs in The Hobbit trilogy, in spite of them being on the screen for what was probably an hour instead of 3 excruciatingly long movies.
Because it doesn't matter how long you show a character. When you have a
great script, even succinct one and the right actors, you conjure
cinematic magic and that is exactly what happened here. Lated into the movie we meet older generation of women who are trying to survive and the interactions between the two groups are just lovely.
At the center of all of this is Furiosa and both the character and the wonderful Charlize Theron are a worthy successor to Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley. Furiosa is tough, brave and fierce but she is also very human. The scene of her falling on the sand in despair is instantly iconic and Theron finally has a part worthy of her talent, for the first time since underrated Young Adult.
Then there is Tom Hardy who is wonderful and he is not given the easiest task - Max truly is mad, plagued by hallucinations from his tragic past. Hardy shows
it wonderfully with his expressions and body language, same goes for
Max's inner emotions. He is so primal with his movements but there is
also wounded, kind heart in there which Hardy shows so well.
Theron and Hardy play off each other so well. They say so much just using their eyes - the scene where they exchange the first glances between each other is great - Max sees someone who is different than others and Furiosa sees a potential ally. Then when they meet again Furiosa treats Max as what he basically is - a wounded animal, trying to survive. She studies him carefully because she knows he can strike at any moment. She is like a tigress, protecting her cubs.
Max ends up helping Furiosa and the girls - he is not just there because he wants to stay alive, the more he sees of the women's spirit and Furiosa's
skills and determination he puts his life in harm's way because he
probably feels his is worth less than theirs. He is gradually more and
more impressed with these women and in the end gives them everything he
has, much like another male character Nux. What's great about the story is that they all work as a team together.
That there is no romance in the movie doesn't feel like calculated decision to make the film different. There are sparks between the main characters and in any other movie there would be a follow up to those sparks, but here, in this world who has the time for this nonsense when you are constantly fighting to survive?
The film has a lot of lovely symbolism that's actually not in your face
and while obvious, it's still disguised as plot elements - take for
instance the journey that Furiosa
plans - 160 days through the land of salt that was presumably once an
ocean. She and the women go that road after the hope is lost and Furiosa
finds out that the Green Place, where she was born and she was taking
the women, is no more. The journey through salty wasteland is the
illustration of the hope lost. But there is still survival instinct so
instead of suicide they will go for as long as they can, on their own
The execution is so brilliant you really cannot take your eyes off the screen. The pure action is shown with such artistry and dynamics it's like watching the violent, bloody ballet of people, weapons, cars and fire. It's one of those movies where you genuinely cannot believe someone was able to make it. Shot in sequence, the film is truly a wonder.
Over 80% of the effects seen in the film are real practical effects,
stunts, make-up and sets. CGI was used sparingly mainly to enhance the
Namibian landscape, remove stunt rigging and for Charlize Theron's left hand which in the film is a prosthetic arm. The minimal approach definitely shows - everything feels raw and organic.
The visuals in the movie are absolutely breathtaking and the set pieces are genuinely unique. The storm Furiosa drives in, the creepy place with the crows and the ending shots of the movie are truly a thing to witness.
The film looks absolutely gorgeous and is such an explosion of colors - the most memorable shot for me was when Furiosa
and Max are driving into the night and everything is blue except for
wives in the background, holding a lantern which bathes them in the
Then there is the music by Junkie XL's Tom Holkenborg. It adds so
much to the movie and it's just fantastic - at times heavy and
electronic, at other times lyrical and grand. The track Brothers in Arms, which plays during the chase after the rig leaves the canyon and Furiosa and Max work together for the first time is one of the finest movie tracks in years.
And that's the beauty of the story - the most awe inspiring moment in this scene is not the great music, editing or action - it's the teamwork between the two main characters where they wordlessly and instinctively unite in their fight for freedom.
That is ultimately the heart of the movie and nowadays we don't get many movies with a heart, let alone movies as excellent as this one.
Mad Max: Fury Road
(2015, 120 min)
Plot: 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.
Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult