Directed by George Miller
Expectations: Initially nothing, then moderate after I saw the 1st trailer, then the hype dropped and my expectations ballooned to astronomical proportions.
HHHHHHOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLYYYYYY FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKK! The idea of trying to write something relatively coherent after experiencing Mad Max: Fury Road is straight-up ludicrous. While watching it I kept thinking to myself, “This is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.” I know that sounds ridiculously hyperbolic, but it’s true. So what more do I have to say? GO SEE IT IN THE THEATERS! Of course, there’s lots more to say, but that’s the only thing you need to hear if you haven’t seen it yet. Just see it, then we’ll talk.[Deep breath.]
OK, I can do this.
Like the two previous sequels, Mad Max: Fury Road does not outwardly state where it fits in the timeline of Miller’s wasteland tales, it just dumps you into the world and lets you figure it out. Since it’s been 30 years since the last ride for Max the timelines don’t line up perfectly, but they never really did and it never really mattered. I was initially convinced that Fury Road was intended to be between Road Warrior and Thunderdome, but I’m now positive that it’s a few (or many) years after Thunderdome.
What initially made me think it was between 2 & 3 was that Max begins Fury Road with his car, and the car is long gone by the time Thunderdome rolls around. He also wears the leg brace in Fury Road, which I’m pretty positive is also missing from Thunderdome. The other thing that stuck out is that the Keeper of the Seeds says that nothing she planted has taken root yet, but the kids in Thunderdome are living in a lush oasis. From what I understand the nuclear war in this world occurred between Road Warrior and Thunderdome, though, so the advanced state of the genetic mutation and the offhand references to “perfect” babies being unique and prized make it clear that this is an advancement of any previous version of the wasteland we’ve seen. In terms of Max looking old enough for this to make sense, it definitely doesn’t hold up, but whatever. I love that these films are all tales of Max in the wasteland, loosely connected but not directly. Since Max is more of a cipher than a fleshed-out character, it just matters that he’s there, not that everything adds up perfectly.
Over the course of my Mad Max reviews one of the things I haven’t touched on is the series’ design work. In the first film it’s the police cars that stand out, Road Warrior has all the crazy bandit shit, and in Thunderdome I think Barter Town delivers a great look at a town built by bandits and scavengers. Fury Road completely and utterly blows them all away on all fronts: cars, bandits and towns. George Miller’s ability to deliver visually driven characters soars in Fury Road. Immortan Joe’s skull teeth and breathing tubes? Instant BAD ASS that shoots to the top of movie villain lists everywhere. He is the ultimate asshole; he might do a lot of things, but fuck around is not one of them. The midget guy? The dude blasting out heavy guitar riffs no matter what happens around him, on a car strapped high with amps and drummers? The robber-baron leader of Gas Town with the fucked-up nose? I could go on because the film is FILLED with these kinds of guys, and they are all incredible.
Max is once again in-between two rival factions, too: the Immortan Joe nutjobs (with additional gonzo motherfuckers courtesy of Gas Town and the Bullet Farm), and the women of the wasteland led by the incredible and truly awesome Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Immortan Joe is a force of destruction (whether that’s literal destruction or a more figurative “destruction of other lives through oppression” sort of thing) and his goal is simply more power. The women are also a force of destruction, although their methods are wildly different. The women blame Joe (and basically all men) for causing the world’s end, so they hope to destroy/overthrow the patriarchal ways that ruled the world even before the wasteland (and then in turn breathe fresh life into the wasteland). In the previous films the side of good generally hung their hope on resurrecting something remembered from the pre-apocalypse world, but the women of Fury Road want no part of that.
Mad Max: Fury Road is so goddamned good. Abso-fuckin’-lutely incredible. Seriously, if you love movies, specifically action movies, it’s one of the greatest movies ever made. George Miller, at 70 years old, shows everyone how it’s done. Best Everything of 2015.