Well, here we are. After three previous reviews of Mad Max, The Road Warrior or Beyond Thunderdome, it’s finally time to take a look at Fury Road, the latest – and arguably most successful – entry in the franchise, garnering critical acclaim (90% on Metacritic and 6 Oscars can’t be wrong) and becoming the highest-grossing entry in the franchise of all time. And although I’ve previously been sceptical about the Mad Max franchise, I can firmly say that Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the very best films I’ve ever seen.
Fury Road follows the monosyllabic ex-cop Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy here taking the mantle from Mel Gibson) as he teams up with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and Nux (Nicholas Hoult), defectors from the brutal regime of Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, better known as Toecutter from the 1979 original), as she attempts to save Joe’s five wives, led by Splendid (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). But, the Road is not to be easy, as all of The Citadel’s forces are out to stop them.
The most important element of every Mad Max film is undoubtedly the action. The Road Warrior perfected it, Beyond Thunderdome lacked it, and Fury Road absolutely nails it. It’s nye-on impossible to tear your eyes away from the screen thanks to the beautifully choreographed fight scenes. I can’t count the times where, eyes glued to the screen, I thought to myself ‘How did they make this?’, and my question remains: this action is so intense and exhilarating that it’s truly a wonder as to how they managed to get it on film. The film plays as a long action scene, but the superb pacing means that there’s always a spare moment to catch your breath before we dive right back in to the carnage that ensues. Although used sparingly, the CGI strewn about is fantastic and barely noticeable, but it’s the practical effects that really take the lead here: there is nothing in any action film that can compare to zanily-designed cars being engulfed with explosions and being decimating in beautiful, elegant collisions. It really is the best action I’ve ever seen, playing like a highlight reel of all the action of the previous three films while ramping up the scale to make the most memorable action I’ve seen.
On top of this, the work behind-the-scenes is just as stunning as the chaos that ensues on-screen. George Miller really shows his prestige as a director here, thanks to absolutely spellbinding cinematography: the opening scene itself encapsulates the beauty found in this post-apocalyptic world, and it’s truly breathtaking. The only film I can find to compare how I feel about the cinematography is Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar: the shot where Furiosa’s tanker drives head-first into a gorgeously-rendered sandstorm is – among many other spellbinding shots – wonderfully reminiscent of the massive, take-your-breath-away style of the epic establishing shots of vast interstellar planets. The sets are brilliant as well: I’ve heard that Miller was gifted a few hundred square miles of Namibian desert to shoot this film on, and it’s done excellently: although it comprises mostly of desert, it still has plenty of personality and charm. Finally, I really loved some of the unique elements of Fury Road not commonly seen in summer blockbusters: the use of a dusky blue skyline in some of the action scenes wonderfully personifies just how unique and genius this film is.
Although the focus of Mad Max films has never been its actors, it’s hard to deny that the performances in Fury Road are pretty darn great. Although he only has around 50 lines, Tom Hardy is absolutely masterful as Max, encapsulating everything we loved about Mel Gibson’s interpretation of the character while adding his own spin on it perfectly. Hardy’s Max is captivating, desperate and absolutely breathtaking. Charlize Theron is absolutely fantastic as Furiosa as well; the personification of a badass that has some really great character moments to show off Theron’s range, and to cement her as one of our generation’s best actresses. It’s fair to say that these two are both pretty well-renowned performers, but arguably the person with the most to prove is Nicholas Hoult: a young British actor best known for being the kid in About a Boy and having a side role in the new X-Men films isn’t particularly what you’d expect for what is easily the most heartfelt and touching character in the film. Hoult’s performance is truly captivating, and his character’s arc is simply stunning, accentuated by his range and dedication to the role. Although before I liked him best as Tony inteen drama Skins, Nux is now absolutely my favourite Hoult character, primarily due to his huge talent in the role. Finally, there’s Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne – Toecutter in 1979’s Mad Max – who has a great turn here as well. Although brief, director George Miller’s script is brilliant in establishing Joe as a truly nefarious antagonist, and his dedication to the role only makes this better.
Fury Road is the first Mad Max film to ever receive an Oscar nomination, let alone to scoop six awards, but despite what some reviewers on IMDb may say, it absolutely and categorically deserves each and every one of them. Mad Max: Fury Road is a masterpiece to the fullest extent, thanks to absolutely revolutionary and basically perfect action, wonderful, desperate and beautiful performances and simply terrific work behind the camera. This is comfortably in my top 10 films of all time, maybe even reaching the top 5, and personifies everything I love about film as a medium. After loving The Road Warrior, it could’ve been easily to be disappointed by Fury Road, but the next time somebody asks me why I’m so enamoured by cinema, this is definitely one of the films I’ll point them to. Mad Max: Fury Road is nothing short of two hours of pure genius.