REVIEW: Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road is a masterpiece. Go see it.

Most big budget entertainment these days tries to appeal to everyone. One part is for the kids, one part is for the teenagers, one part is for the adults, one part is for the Chinese market… and so on. There’s no purity of vision. Or if there is it’s simply one of capitalism, with producers and suits making the big decisions. Guiding the project with an eye towards profit and minimizing financial risk instead of quality or artistic vision.

I will say that understand this trend. It is (theoretically) better business, and a more responsible approach. Artistic vision doesn’t guarantee a good product by any means. But it’s also a trend I hate because it makes media less interesting. There’s just less value in a generic mediocre work than there is an ambitious disaster. The lows are less interesting and the highs aren’t as high.

Entering from stage right is George Miller with Mad Max: Fury Road, the most ambitious movie of the year and easily the best so far. Avengers 2 set itself with the goal of making all the money in the world, while continuing to be a cog in the Marvel movie machine; but Fury Road sets out with the goal of being the best dam action movie ever.

There’s a reason Fury Road is basically getting universal love from audiences and critics. Every shot is gorgeous; this is Grade A film making. Every car in this movie is an actual physical working car. The orange of the desert makes everything pop during the day. The cool blue of the night, silhouettes everything, the ultimate realization of day-for-night. There’s also meat on the bone here. The conflict is thought out, compelling, and appropriate for 2015. This isn’t a nostalgia vehicle, Mad Max is back because it’s still relevant today.

With all that said, the movie never loses sight of what it really is: an action move. It’s job is to give us spectacle, and it completely delivers. The movie hits the ground rolling, with a great short narration from Max that clearly tells you where he’s at going into this move. This may be a new Max, but it also feels like and older Max. The movie doesn’t give the character a fresh start, it presents him as someone who’s gone through hell. The noble goals of his past are just that, a thing of his past. What we get is is a Max who’s living up to the “Mad” of his name.

The film never wastes the audience’s time. It’s well paced, giving you time to breathe, but never loses focus. It’s brutal, violent, bloody, dirty, gross, and glorious. Nothing is held back.

Fury Road is everything I want from a followup movie. It’s bigger, more ambitious, true to the core of the earlier movies, and not content to relive them. Mad Max has learned from the past and it leads to a more satisfying movie. It feels like a culmination of the post-apocalyptic film genre, and hopefully points us toward a better future of action movies.