Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road ***1/2 (2015)

Mad Max: Fury Road literally grabs you from the beginning and never lets go. In a reboot/sequel to George Miller's trilogy of Mad Max (1979), The Road Warrior (1981), and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985), Fury Road not only adds to the mythology, but expands upon it with the introduction of amazing new characters and jaw dropping action sequences. Fury Road makes The Avengers: Age of Ultron look like a polite tea party, Miller and his crew have fired a salvo into the Marvel Universe saying: This is how it's done. 

In the post-Apocalyptic world of Mad Max, gasoline is a scarce resource and fanatical thugs run the world as humanity reverts to tribalism.  The setting owes something to A Clockwork Orange, a world run by violent young men who rape, pillage, and terrify the helpless masses.  In the first trilogy the gangs had a punky vibe, now they are religious fanatics.

As Fury Road begins Max, now played by Tom Hardy (replacing an aging Mel Gibson), continues to wander the earth alone after thugs murdered his family. He is captured by one of the gangs and is used as a blood donor for the warlord Immortan Joe's army.  The tyrants are violent zealots who use food and water to control what's left of a post-nuclear war world.  Women are considered useful for "breeding" purposes only. 

Then we meet Furiosa memorably played by Charlize Theron, a scavenger of gasoline who goes off route with Joe's wives aboard and an epic chase begins. Furiosa is determined to liberate the wives and return them to her homeland.  Eventually, Furiosa and Max form an uneasy alliance in their determination to escape Joe.  During their long desert sojourn the tension never lets up. No one is safe from instant death.

What separates Fury Road from so many others of its genre is that the action serves the story. The sequences move forward in a logical way and are easy to follow.  Like a silent movie the story is told visually and the actors do a fantastic job of emoting with minimal dialogue.

Fury Road is pure cinema.

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