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“Mad Max: Fury Road” looks to take its place as one of the best action movies of the decade

Charlize Theron MAD MAX

There’s no way to get around this fact…”Mad” Max Rockatansky is coming back to the public consciousness. In just a few days, audiences are going to be blown away by Mad Max: Fury Road, the latest installment in/reboot of George Miller’s iconic franchise. This is the fourth time that writer/director Miller has looked at the post apocalyptic landscape through the experiences of Max, this time played by Tom Hardy instead of Mel Gibson. Here, with Mad Max: Fury Road, Miller has delivered what my colleagues are calling the best movies of the year so far. I won’t go that far, but it’s certainly one of the better action flick in some time…and yes, it’s essentially a two hour chase film, as has been the rumor.

Plot isn’t a huge deal in this film, but it does work to mostly establish the kind of world that the movie takes place in so that a prolonged chase can ensue. We initially meet Max on the run from the minions of Immortan Joe, who basically owns the wasteland since he controls the water supply. Caught and literally used as a blood bag by “war boy” Nux, Max is basically left for dead, until Nux is among those sent after Imperator Furiosa, a renegade who’s hijacked a war rig and has some of Joe’s slave girls as her cargo, headed towards a hopeful freedom. Max ends up freed from Nux and along for the ride with Furiosa, as Joe’s legions give chase. It’s a simple premise, just done to absolute excess. Miller directs and co-writes with Nick Lathouris and Brendan McCarthy, while in addition to Hardy the cast includes Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, and more. They all come together to make this dystopian vision really sing.

Honestly, while I really enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road, I wasn’t quite as blown away by it as most of my colleagues seem to be. It’s quite good, but one long chase, essentially split up into three or four parts, grows tiresome after awhile. There’s very little dialogue here, and while the score and visuals are luscious, it sometimes winds up feeling like too much. It’s hard to complain about having too much of a good thing, as it were, but that’s kind of how I feel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s probably among the dozen best things of 2015 so far, but it’s far from perfect.

What really works here is Miller, who proves to be perhaps the most energetic filmmaker out there right now, despite his advanced age. Besides putting Hardy and Theron absolutely through the ringer, he achieves massive spectacle with almost no use of CGI. The visual effects are by and large practical, giving this a unique look. I may have some issues with the overkill, but it’s a singular vision, without question. If there are to be Mad Max sequels, more so than Hardy in the title role or Theron in this very interesting new role, I’d just demand that Miller still be in the director’s chair. He’s the heart and soul of Mad Max: Fury Road.

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This is probably the best installment in the franchise, beating out Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Gibson is still more iconic than Hardy, though Theron does challenge with her new role, but again…Miller is the real star here. He’s the one who makes this as much fun as it is. All of the movies in the series are worthwhile, and it’s arguable that Miller has still never made a bad film, but this could be his best yet. He’s in his 70’s and somehow in the prime of his career. Go figure in that regard. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

On Friday, audiences will finally get a chance to see this long developing project of Miller’s, and it seems like they’ll be getting more than their money’s worth. Mad Max: Fury Road is a high octane car chase movie that may very well set the new standard for car chases. If theatergoers respond to it like many of my critic friends have so far, this will go down as a modern classic in the action genre. If nothing else, it’s exceedingly memorable. Don’t pass up a chance to have your mind blown by this new epic from the legend that is Miller. He’s given action junkies a new fix, and that’s putting it mildly…

Be sure to check out Mad Max: Fury Road when it opens this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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