During a much-needed day off, I capped off a day of relaxation and self-reflection with George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, a reboot of sorts for the influential trilogy of 1980s Mel Gibson flicks. I've never seen a Mad Max film before, and judging by what I'd heard about this new installment (starring Bane himself, Tom Hardy), I wouldn't need to do much homework before diving into this high-octane race through a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland. Instead, I strolled into the 3:40 showing at Bow Tie Cinemas' Regent 8 in South Norwalk with only the faintest knowledge of the film, expecting little more than loud explosions and steel-bending car wrecks, and what I got was a whole lot more. Whether or not it was a good choice on a day that was supposed to be relaxing is another issue.
Fury Road isn't a fun movie, necessarily, and definitely isn't what most people are looking for in a summer blockbuster. Max's world is a tense and grotesque one, and it's not one I was entirely comfortable experiencing for the film's two-hour's running time. That being said, I loved what this film brought to the table. Here's why it's sticking with me. Spoilers ahead!
- This film is a love letter to practical filmmaking, using real cars, real pyrotechnics and real stunts. CGI was used sparingly, and seldom drew attention to itself.
- The villain, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), is delightfully evil and always interesting to watch on-screen thanks to some superb makeup work. There's that dedication to practical effects again.
- The Doof Warrior, who heralds the coming of Immortan Joe's war party with a flame-spewing guitar, is one of the craziest things I've ever seen in a movie. I want him to play my next birthday party.
- With all of this talk recently about genre flicks not giving women their due, it's arguable that the women in Fury Road are its strongest characters, namely Charlize Theron's awesomely named Imperator Furiosa. In fact, Furiosa has more bearing on the plot than even Max himself.
- The scene where Immortan Joe's son, Rictus Erectus (former WWE Superstar Nathan Jones), meets his baby brother is one of the most nightmarish things I've seen in a movie in quite some time.
- I dug that Immortan Joe's soldiers, or "war boys," had a viking-esque code of honor, with promises of Valhalla for those who make the ultimate sacrifice in battle. This made it easier to sympathize with Nux (Nicholas Hoult) later in the movie.
- This movie shows more than it tells. We don't get a ton of exposition once things get rolling, and the film isn't really interested in slowing down to explain why things are the way they are in this universe. There's a lot of world-building going on, but you'll barely notice it. That's rare.
- Fury Road isn't beholden to the original films, nor does it end with a tease for sequels. This movie truly stands alone, making you actually want a sequel before you're guaranteed one.