Review: Mad Max: Fury Road


Director:George Miller

Cast:Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne

Running Time:120 Minutes


In an era where nearly all action movies are filmed entirely on green screens and edited into incoherence with a cast of poorly written characters, Mad Max: Fury Road is a strong, defiant blast.

George Miller returns to the franchise 30 years after Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but no previous knowledge of his dystopian films with Mel Gibson is required to enjoy the myriad thrills on display. Tom Hardy fills in as Max, a guilt-ridden ex-cop captured by a group of soldiers loyal to Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), an aging dictator. He's sent his goons out to reclaim a truck driven by Furiosa (Charlize Theron) because she's carrying an illegal payload: Joe's prize concubines.The very crux of the mission is feminist at heart, but Miller and his writers go a step further, giving all the ladies their own personalities, tastes and failures (one girl even considers running back to her tormentor). In fact, nearly all the speaking parts are characters that feel thought out instead of one more piece of cannon fodder."¨

Fury Road hits the gas early and never lets up. Miller seems to have conceived this whole crazy thing, looked at how it could have been done easily, then threw away that idea for something even more jaw-dropping. There's an element of danger that makes you feel like everyone was put at risk for the sake of a stunt. Shooting in the unforgiving Namib Desert instead of a comfortable studio, there's a grittiness that simply can't be faked. And like last year's John Wick, there's an elegance to all the face-punching and gunfire.

Some of Fury Road's spectacle is a little too much (we didn't need a musician riding atop a truck with flames shooting out of his guitar). But I'm glad Miller went for it. Too many blockbusters play it safe, not trusting their audience to accept the outrageous or the thought-provoking. He even finds time for some gallows humor and religious satire.

The summer has just begun, but it's hard to see another movie equalling this one's grand ambition, deep ideas and awe-inspiring action. Believe the hype.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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