Let me start out this review by saying one simple phrase: George Miller, Happy Feet Two is totally forgiven and then some. His directorial followup to that 2011 feature (and in fact only his third film he’s directed in the 21st century) returns him to the franchise that made him a household name. Sometimes, returning to old cinematic stomping grounds reaps lackluster results (namely in regards to the ambitious but underwhelming fourth season of Arrested Development), but Millers doesn’t stumble telling another Mad Max tale, instead soaring with one of the best action films in ages.
Mad Max: Fury Road is not one to forego an opportunity to go bombastic, but it also knows when to go small, such as in the scale of the movies story. Primarily, we spend time with Max (Tom Hardy) accompanying Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as she attempts to lead five women being held captive by the nefarious and quite powerful Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Keeping the proceedings centered only on this group trying to survive being chased across the post-apocalyptic landscape helps them all become engaging personalities, particularly Imperator Furiosa.
You’ve likely heard numerous rave reviews around Therons character in this movie, and allow me to continue the trend because, oh my God, she is freaking incredible here. Furiosa is a character with strength, with a rich backstory and the capability to full captivate the audience in any scene she’s in. The movie smartly doesn’t make her play second fiddle to Max, instead making her his equal, and frankly, I felt she was the real star of the show here, to the movies endless benefit.
That’s not to say Hardy doesn’t fare well within the confines of Mad Max: Fury Road, in fact, he commands a fearless presence that’s quite exciting, especially when he’s a part of combat. Combat which, by the by, looks absolutely phenomenal. Apparently, George Miller primarily based the film off a storyboard version of the movie, which means, as one might expect, there’s a large emphasis visuals in the movie. Considering how stunning all the chase scenes are, this approach is more than fine by me.
Aesthetically pleasing in every frame, Mad Max: Fury Road provides the perfect template for how any movie should tackle its visuals. Just compare the various outfits or automobiles seen in this film to, say, the designs of the robots in the Transformers sequels, and the strengths of what can be witnessed here are only further reinforced. Those Autobots and what not tend to have an excess of moving parts that look more cluttered than fascinating, whereas every piece of wardrobe the characters don in Mad Max; Fury Road serves a distinct purpose. Just look at how Immortan Joe’s garbs (which includes a doo-dad covering the majority of his face) intend to give him an intimidating physical presence that he couldn’t achieve on his own.
Perhaps that’s the best part about this feature; not only does it look awesome, it actually has layers and can stand up to intense scrutiny and analyzation. Being able to accomplish that sort of feat only further shows how just captivating this movie. Relentlessly insane (if you think the movies gone as bonkers as it can go, just wait. Something else will pop up in seconds to top it!), Mad Max: Fury Road combines three of my favorite things in one movie: feminism, impressive car chases and guitars that also work as flamethrowers.