Mad for Max

A review of the best blockbuster in years

This past summer, an action movie came along and changed the game. It premiered at Cannes, won the International Federation of Film Critics award for best film of the year and held strong at an astonishing 97 percent on RottenTomatoes.com. It even has a “Best Film”nomination from the Environmental Media Awards. The film, the one that dodged every trope and rewrote the book on what an action movie can be, is none other than “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Much has been said about “Mad Max”since its release back in May, but with the DVD release having just come on Sept.1, it bears repeating. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where water, ammunition and gasoline are very rare. At the beginning of the film, Max (Tom Hardy) is captured by the brutal “War Boys.”

In his attempt to escape, he ends up allying with Imperator Furiosa (CharlizeTheron) as she helps the five wives of warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the leader of the War Boys, escape his clutches. The film is essentially one long, engrossing, action packed road trip and it could not be better for it.

The movie relies heavily on practical effects, as opposed to the criminal overuse of CGI in its contemporaries. Most of the stunts you see on screen were done using real props and real stuntmen. This technological step backward adds a great deal of feeling and urgency to every action – every crash is brutal, every hit has impact and by the end of the film I really felt how exhausted these characters were.

In particular, the exciting final battle with the War Boys has dozens of pulse-pounding sequences and death defying stunt-work. Everything felt more real, more urgent, and more intense than contemporaries “Jurassic World”and “Ant-Man.”

All this remarkable action is backed up by some excellent writing. Writer/director George Miller knows the power of silence and body language, and very few words are wasted throughout. For the first quarter of the movie, after the opening voiceover, Max doesn’t say a single word. As opposed to other action films, there is no witty repartee, no one-liners and no filler. What dialogue is there is good, but the long, wordless stretches are masterful.

Although Tom Hardy deserves a lot of praise for bringing a remarkable amount of subtlety to the stoic character of Max, the real standout of the cast is CharlizeTheron’sFuriosa. She is complex, tough and exceedingly competent, and Theron manages to bring a great deal of charisma to the role – it is hard to not like Furiosa, and some critics have made arguments that she is more of a main character than Max is. These critics are wrong, but this speaks to how much presence Theron has on-screen.

If you missed this movie, now is the perfect opportunity to hit up a streaming service of your choice, grab a few friends and witness the best action movie in years. “Mad Max: Fury Road”is exactly the type of movie that reminds me why I love movies. It is by far the movie of the summer, and it is a movie that I will never forget. I look forward to the sequel with very high expectations. Final score: 96/100

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