Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

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Mad Max: Fury Road is not the best movie ever. You know how when you have friends who have just seen a movie and they come out of it saying how it’s the “best movie ever”? This nearly always ruins the experience of watching the movie for the rest of us, because instead of enjoying the movie, all we can think about is how, even if it were a good movie, it’s definitely NOT the best movie ever. So after all the hype Mad Max has received over the past couple of months, let me slow the rolling for a second: it’s not the best movie ever.

Definitely not.

It’s not even the best action movie ever. One thing Fury Road has a lot of is action. If you thought the Fast/Furious franchise had a lot of action, consider that this one movie has as much action packed in its two-hour runtime as all seven of those movies combined. Fury Road is basically just two long car chase sequences, but they’re the most creatively staged chase sequences I’ve ever seen. These aren’t just car chases though. The vehicles involved are tricked out with the most messed up gear: long protruding spikes, swinging levers for with armed people perched on the ends, flamethrowers, blood bags (Mad Max does time for much of the first half of the film as one of these, which are basically humans trussed up to supply blood for their superiors), chained up faceless hair-metal guitar players. But all this weirdness wouldn’t matter if director George Miller didn’t choreograph the action so clearly and vividly. You always know what’s happening even if you’re not sure what you’re watching.

But it’s not the best action movie ever, definitely not.

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It’s not even the best story ever. The first three Mad Max movies centered on exactly whom you’d expect: Max. Max (Mel Gibson) was a cop in post-apocalyptic Australia, until (SPOILER ALERT for a 30-year-old movie) his wife and child were killed by criminals. Then he became the “Road Warrior”, and remained a traveling vigilante, I suppose, from the ‘80s until this year. Fury Road features Max as well, played by Tom Hardy this time, though he’s far less in the spotlight than in the first trilogy. A bunch of women steal the show from him in Fury Road, led by Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who is trying to rescue a group of women who have barely functioned under the thumb of the land’s tyrannical patriarchy. This group of women was the main tyrant’s personal stash of sex slaves, and Furiosa intends to lead them across the desert to “the green place”, ostensibly a land of plenty where women aren’t treated like objects. The feminist themes sound like they’d be more than your average action movie could handle, but Miller and the cast handle the weightiness of the story with surprising deftness, to the point where I’m not sure a more important story will be told all year.

But it’s not the best story ever, definitely not.

It’s not even the best cinematography ever either. From the trailers you could tell that, whether or not everything else was quality, this movie was at least going to look good. The colors are rich and permeate the entire screen, so that everything is tinged dark blue at night and deep orange during the day. The effects are largely practical instead of digital, which restores a feeling that we haven’t felt at the movies in a while: wonder. For the first time in a long time, I was in awe of special effects. I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened.

But it’s not the best cinematography ever, definitely not.

So, in conclusion, it’s not the best movie ever. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Even so, everyone I saw the movie came out of it thinking it was a singular experience, that we hadn’t ever seen anything like it before. I’ve loved the recent spate of special-effects-laden movies from Marvel and the Fast/Furious franchise, but Fury Road was refreshing in a different way. Fury Road made those other movies look like cartoons. I like cartoons, but if that’s all you watch, you might forget what you’re missing. Fury Road is intense from beginning to end in its nonstop action and in the details of the immersive world that Miller and his crew have created. A movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat with suspense and excitement doesn’t often end by giving its audience the feeling they just watched something important and groundbreaking. Fury Road does just that.

But it’s not the best movie ever, definitely not.

…might be in the conversation though…

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2 thoughts on “Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

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