Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Mad Max: Fury Road Is Where the Action Is

Tom Hardy is a worthy successor to Mel Gibson, but Charlize Theron rules this furious sequel.

|

Mad Max
Warner Bros

George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road is a speed-metal classic. Crazed warlords and rampaging psychonauts attack nonstop. Fleets of monster trucks, cranked-up hot rods and armored battle bikes scream through the desert and sail through the air. Bullets rain down, chain saws snarl, flame-throwers belch and spew—and that's just the basics. Miller has spent the 30 years since his original Mad Max trilogy came to an end making great pictures about dancing penguins, talking pigs, and whatnot. Now, at age 70, he's back in action, and he's still the most gifted director in the crash-and-burn game. The movie's relentless frenzy is astonishing.

You'll recall from the earlier films that Max Rockatansky, Miller's battered road warrior, is a onetime cop who lost his wife and child in the savage tumult of a postapocalyptic civilizational breakdown. The role of Max made Mel Gibson a worldwide star; now, played by Tom Hardy, he's still a wanderer, still "searching for a righteous cause." After a typically insane spasm of opening action, he's captured by the hot-rodding minions of Immortan Joe, a wasteland tyrant who rules from a skull-shaped mountaintop fortress. (He's played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also played Toecutter in Miller's 1979 Mad Max.) Joe subjugates the local populace through his control of water, munitions, and the fuel to power his scrap-heap automotive legion. Dragged back to this dismal kingdom, Max is spotted by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), one of Joe's trusted lieutenants. Furiosa is on her way elsewhere, though. She's embarked on an act of treachery that sets the plot in motion. 

It's a slowly dawning surprise to realize that a movie so ferociously devoted to action also has something else on its mind. Furiosa is actually the film's central character. Kidnapped as a child from some vague paradise called "the green place," she was raised in Joe's harsh realm, where young women are valued only as sex slaves and "breeders," relied upon to produce a new generation free of the diseases that infest the rest of this miserable world. The hideous Joe, with his wild white hair, demonic eyes, and horse-toothed jaw mask, keeps five of these fertile women as his personal property, and Furiosa has secretly stowed them away in her 18-wheel war truck for a gas run that is actually an escape back to the green place.    

The picture's focus on women never devolves into standard feminist talking points (although Miller did bring in Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler to instruct the cast on the realities of international rape cultures). Joe's five brides—among them Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Riley Keough—stand in for traditional action-flick beauties, although they're too kickass to be pigeonholed as simple babes. And later we meet a tribe of elderly warrior women who tear across the sandy wastes on weaponized motorcycles, saying things like "I killed everyone I ever met out here." Isolated between these two poles is Furiosa, with her steampunk prosthetic arm and oil-greased cranium. Theron, in a commanding performance, plays this character as a prototypical loner of the Clint Eastwood school—an individual with her own deadly serious agenda. There's no romantic spark between her and Max: after a slam-bang fight scene that ends in a draw, they settle into a relationship of mutual respect. A useful thing, given the murderous forces arrayed against them.    

It's nice to have a thoughtful plot in a movie like this, but really, the plot is hardly the point. The picture is a triumph of production design and action choreography. There are some amazing handmade battle wagons, one of them bristling with spikes, like a turbo-charged porcupine, another fronted by a wall of speakers and a shredding guitarist (whose double-necked instrument also shoots out flames). Miller's commitment to real stuntwork and state-of-the-art camera technology produces scenes of enveloping clamor and chaos, growing more dazzlingly complex as the film's two hours fly by. And while he relies very little on CGI, there's one computer-generated tornado—a towering wall of dust into which Max and Furiosa disappear—that has an awesome beauty. (The real-life desert lands we see elsewhere were filmed on locations in Australia and Namibia.)

Hardy is an appealingly low-key Max, constrained by a Bane-like mask in the beginning and otherwise prone to melancholy grunts. And Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past) is a lot of fun as a lovable-lunatic "war boy" called Nux. But Charlize Theron rules this movie, her character a new kind of action hero who happens to be a woman. Over the course of the many years this film was in development, Miller is said to have contemplated a spinoff Furiosa feature. This is an idea that should maybe be moved back onto the front burner. 

NEXT: Carbon Markets or Recessions: Which Cuts Greenhouse Gases More?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. a wall of speakers and a shredding guitarist (whose double-necked instrument also shoots out flames)

    So I should bring some tissues, then.

    1. Tube sock works too

      1. Eeeeeew!

        /teenage girl

    2. When I read that I pictured a live action version of Kenny’s cat piss induced hallucinations from the Major Boobage South Park episode.

  2. I’m sold.

  3. So fired up for this. Haven’t been this geeked for a movie in ages.

  4. “And later we meet a tribe of elderly warrior women who tear across the sandy wastes on weaponized motorcycles, saying things like “I killed everyone I ever met out here.””

    This is one of the greatest sentences I’ve ever read.

    1. Yeah…I was a little concerned that this film would be inappropriate for my six year old granddaughter.

      Huge relief!

  5. The reviews this movie are getting are almost unbelievable. 99% on Rotten Tomatoes? If this lives up to the hype it will have to be remembered as THE greatest action movie of all time, no?

    1. That’s why I’m gonna let yall watch it first and see how you like it. Any movie with that kind of hype almost has to be disappointing. Plus I’m going to a football game tonight.

      1. Football? In May??? Or are you talking about kickball?

        1. Paper-football???

        2. It’s an intrasquad game after spring practice ends, and its the 4th major sport down here.

  6. Rogue cock lava is a bitch, man.

    1. How you doing, AC?

      1. Superb, love. And you?

  7. I was trying to explain to my wife why this movie is going to be the greatest thing ever, but since she never watched the originals it was a lost cause.

    -1 Kid with Razored Boomerang

    1. I never saw the originals either. Before my time. I’m thinking it probably won’t matter too much.

      1. I’m not really into those kind of movies, for that matter I’m really not into movies, but they are worth a watch. Especially the Road Warrior one.

    2. The Road Warrior was on Spike tv last night.

    3. I’ve had these troubles with multiple franchise flicks with my wife too… Fortunately I think nothing of going to the theater solo if need be.

      1. There are times when it’s good to be the boss.

  8. Max isn’t the central character? Title seems a bit misleading.

    1. It’s also evidence of FEMINAZI PROPAGANDA according to Roosh’s Retards.

      “But let us be clear. This is the vehicle by which they are guaranteed to force a lecture on feminism down your throat. This is the Trojan Horse feminists and Hollywood leftists will use to (vainly) insist on the trope women are equal to men in all things, including physique, strength, and logic. And this is the subterfuge they will use to blur the lines between masculinity and femininity, further ruining women for men, and men for women.”

      EMMMM! That’s some good misogyny!

      1. Something unreasonable in that quote? Un-Reason-able; maybe. Unreasonable; I think not.

        1. Well, the fact that these guys see themselves as UBER HYPER ULTRA ALPHA MALES then throw bitch fits because a movie has a female action hero at the very least shows how delusional these idiots are.

          They’re the flip side of modern feminists. Just like modern feminists claim they’re totally empowered women but, at the same time, they can’t emotionally handle a billboard with a chick in a bikini on it, an awful lot of MRAs claim they’re masculine ubermensch and then whine incessantly because the feminazis have infested our movies.

          1. In other words, anyone who whines about this is a giant pussy and it’s especially laughable coming from guys who are always blubbering about their masculinity.

            1. I was a fire boss for almost two decades. It was fairly popular for women to sign up during the 80s and 90s. They deserve the same chance as anyone else. I fired at least a half dozen men who were good hands for expressing disdain at having a female or females on the crew. Almost every last lady let me down and quit. In the end out of all those ladies there were only two could ever keep up. A big Germanic girl named Tanya and one other who I’d secretly suspected of really being a dude.

              Granted, the vast majority of men were incapable of doing the work we did, which is one reason I was pleased that standards for hiring became uniformly enforced. But, is it really misogyny to recognize there are physical differences between men and women in general?

              (BTW: I don’t really know much about the Rooshies. Barely remember them to be honest, so I’m sure I missed something in all this.)

              1. I’m all for a fun flick that’s just pure wildstyle action and not reality-based.Sure, we all know men are stronger than women. So what? Can’t we enjoy a dystopian post-apocalyptic fantasy in which women are portrayed as physically tough as nails and smarter, cagier perhaps, then their male antagonists? I don’t need to obsess on the crazy unrealistic vehicles, explosions, and/or weapons in a hard rockin’ manic car-chase world wherein the female hero is a total badass who fist-fights the toughest, quickest man in the whole desert to a draw. I’m willing and eager to visit a fictive world menaced by male villains who are cartoonish violent ogres bent on using women as breeders. Why not? It’s no comment on 2015 America. It’s just a thrill ride! hell yeah!

                I can so dig all that. But if this is an unrealistic fun fantasy, why did Miller bring in Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler to “instruct” the cast on the realities of international rape cultures?

                to keep it real? to address “troubling” and “concerning” issues? Rape culture is a serious problem. [frown and nod]

          2. Both groups are almost to perfect. How do people get like this?

        2. This is the Trojan Horse feminists and Hollywood leftists will use to (vainly) insist on the trope women are equal to men in all things, including physique, strength, and logic

          Sounds pretty misogynistic to me. Plenty of women who are smarter than that guy and/or could kick his whiny ass.

          1. Bell curves.

            Wait, that sounds wrong. Dang it.

          2. Speaking of Kicking their asses…

            Gina Carrano in Haywire….

            Awesome movie.

      2. Mmm!!

      3. The characters don’t sound like modern feminists at all.

      4. I don’t know that I would call it misogyny as such, but I would call it hypersensitivity. I’ll grant that Hollywood does like the trope that women are superior to men at everything, even kicking ass. But I think getting bent out of shape over female warrior types in over-the-top action flicks is unnecessary. These are, after all, pure fantasy. And as one commentator put it on another blog (don’t remember which one, might have been Takimag) these female characters are actually more male fantasies than female. There’s a reason that “girls with guns” calendars sell well.

        1. That’s probably about the size of it.

    2. I was disappointed when I found out Mel Gibson wasn’t coming back and I’m a little more disappointed to find out Max isn’t the focus, but I’ll still give it a shot.

      1. Yeah, that’s about the way I feel about it. Isn’t Gibson getting pretty old though? I’m thinking we’re very close to the same age and I know I am.

  9. In general, bagging on sequels is justified but Road Warrior could have been a stand-alone flick after Mad Max. Also, Scary Movie 2 didn’t require knowing all the characters’ back stories. Both sequels were home fucking runs!

    1. Yeah there are very few sequels that stand on their own. That is what makes them special. The best ones I can think of were mainly successful because they didn’t try to double up on the first film.

      Road Warrior took a melancholy, often slow (but still good) movie as its prequel and really defined the genre of psychotic gear-head univers.

      Aliens is probably the most successful (in my opinion) sequel. James Cameron took a horror microcosm movie and made a grandiose action flick filled with spectacular scenes, great mood and some great writing.

      Desperado was noteworthy because it seemed like the film Rodriguez wanted to make but didn’t have the budget for. It didn’t reinvent much, but rather than copying its predecessor, improved on it in most ways.

      There are many others, including Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Godfather II but the typical formula seems the same- fundamentally change the sequal to fulfill the audience’s need to return to the universe, but also deliver them something fresh and new.

      Terminator II is often held out as one of those sequels that at least equaled if not surpassed its prequel, and while I concede it was a beautiful, well written film, I think its crime was betraying some of the core philosophical tenants of the first film by abandoning the “Fated Apocalypse”. T3 for all its faults (and there were many) is at least laudable for trying to return to that formula.

      1. Terminator II is often held out as one of those sequels that at least equaled if not surpassed its prequel, and while I concede it was a beautiful, well written film, I think its crime was betraying some of the core philosophical tenants of the first film by abandoning the “Fated Apocalypse”.

        Oh, and also the young John Connor was just godawful. GOD. Awful. I mean…ugh…why?

        1. Yes he was. And I am one of the few who actually like T3. Maybe even more than T2. The first one still rules though.

          1. It was unforgivable that Cameron abandoned the whole “This has happened, this apocalypse is our destiny” continuous timeline that was revealed in the first movie, instead making it “Fate is what you make”. In a way, these two movies are an interesting prism to view culture’s attitudes towards the Cold War early in the 80s (T1, bleak and resigned) vs as we transitioned into the 90s (T2, hopeful and empowered).

            The only thing that would have made this abandonment of the original story worthwhile is if, upon Ahnold sinking into the lava, John Connor let out a shriek and then disappeared into non-existence. After all, by derailing the creation of Skynet, his father should never have come back and conceived him.

            1. God, I hate time travel plot lines. The paradoxes! It often smacks to me of lazy writing.

  10. Do they have the guy with the gyrocopter from The Road Warrior? IIRC Bruce Spence. I just loved it when he threw snakes on people from the air.

    1. Plus, gyrocopter. There’s never been a bad movie made that had a gyrocopter in it. Of course, I think were limited to The Road Warrior and You Only Live Twice, but still.

      1. Ahem:

        International House (1933) with W. C. Fields
        It Happened One Night (1934)
        The 39 Steps (1935)
        Things to Come (1936)
        The Rocketeer (1991)

        1. Papaya, the 39 steps had an autogyro, not a gyrocopter.

          1. AFAIK the two terms are equivalent.

    2. Gyro guy was part of what made the Road Warrior worth watching. That dude was a freak.

      1. “We’re PAHTNAHS, Max!”

        1. It’s tough to get rid a dude with a gyrocopter. They go everywhere.

        2. LETHAL !! These Snakes!!

    3. The gyro guy had a scene in the final LoTR movie that got cut.

  11. Sounds Reason-able.

  12. I haven’t set foot inside of a movie theater in over 3 years but this may break that streak.

  13. The question is – 3D or not?

  14. Will see with #1 Son. Road Warrior is my fave movie EVAR (replacing Bridge on the River Kwai after about the 50th viewing). Mad Max was low-dollar brilliance, and Thunderdome was “almost went too far but didn’t” kitschy, plus, Tina Turner.

    I will attend cautiously, however.

    1. The Road Warrior introduced me to the coolness that comes with owning a gyrocopter. I wanted one ever since. Still want one. My wife wants a house. Go figure.

  15. [Immortan] Joe subjugates the local populace through his control of water, munitions, and the fuel to power his scrap-heap automotive legion.

    Ah, that’s a nice move. Immortan Joe is modeled after governor Jerry Brown. Very fitting!

  16. I got dragged to see ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ last night (the things we do for the ones we love, right?), and I firmly believe that ‘Fury Road’ will provide the blood and guts and explosions I need to shake of the lingering effects of my diabetic coma from last night.

  17. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My neighbour’s sister has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    ==================
    try this site ????????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  18. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…
    http://www.freelance-cash.com

  19. I’m going to see this film and I’m going enjoy it, but it’s a crying shame that this film is marketed as MAD MAX but is actually Imperator Furiosa.

    Makes me disappointed already without haven even seen it yet.

    I wonder if the feminist undertones of the film will cause people to realize that this is a film that highlights the institutionalized chauvinism inherent in Islam and how in Islam women are sex objects, baby making machines and property.

    Or will it cause them to focus discrimination more intently on western males, creating an even deeper invented grievance and victim mentality?

  20. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…
    http://www.jobnet10.com

  21. Nathaniel . although Stephanie `s rep0rt is super… I just bought a top of the range Mercedes sincee geting a check for $4416 this last four weeks and would you believe, ten/k last-month . no-doubt about it, this really is the best-job I’ve ever done . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away started making a nice over $79.. p/h….. ?????? http://www.Jobs-Cash.com

  22. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…
    http://www.jobnet10.com

  23. Nathaniel . although Stephanie `s rep0rt is super… I just bought a top of the range Mercedes sincee geting a check for $4416 this last four weeks and would you believe, ten/k last-month . no-doubt about it, this really is the best-job I’ve ever done . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away started making a nice over $79.. p/h….. ?????? http://www.Jobs-Cash.com

  24. Nathaniel . although Stephanie `s rep0rt is super… I just bought a top of the range Mercedes sincee geting a check for $4416 this last four weeks and would you believe, ten/k last-month . no-doubt about it, this really is the best-job I’ve ever done . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away started making a nice over $79.. p/h….. ?????? http://www.netcash9.com

  25. nowadays more and more audiences know about Mad Max and really like it and the movie has an amazing picture

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.