at the movies: mad max: fury road

I confess that I was never a huge fan of Mad Max.  I know I saw the first one ( it had young Mel Gibson and a blue heeler), and I vaguely remember at least bits of the one with Tina Turner (it had Tina Turner and some kind of fighting arena).  But in general, my dislike of stories about the end of the world and any accompanying post apocalyptics kept me from following the series. Now there’s a reboot? Yawn.

Like many people who are rather surprised this week, I had no interest whatever in seeing Fury Road until the reviews started coming in.  Apparently this is a good movie.  Possibly even a very good one.  And there are crazy cars and explosions and Nicholas Hoult is in it and we had a free afternoon in the middle of busy week …

Could Fury Road really be an excellent film?


My reaction at the end was an honest, heartfelt “what the actual @#$/”.  Fury Road is a very fine action movie–one that culminates in a single car chase/ vehicular combat (between gorgeously over the top apocalyptic war cars, war trucks, and war dirt bikes)  that lasts an hour and a half.  Everything about the action is well designed and well realized, combining vicious hand to hand, clever use of fire and explosion and first class every-shot-counts shooting with the series trademark car stuff.

It’s also a rather elegant art house movie, full of skilful, low key acting, spare, carefully chosen dialog and beautiful faces and expressions, plus brilliant worldbuilding supported by minimal exposition– a film just brimming with show, don’t tell.  How it can be both at the same time has been baffling me for hours.  It’s a good kind of baffled.

In addition to a star turn by Charlize Theron, and a solid supporting performance by Tom Hardy in the title role, Nicholas Hoult is excellent as a vicious, pathetic and ultimately redeemable young thug. (He has also never been more beautiful. )  But the triumph of Fury Road is in the performances two ensembles of women.  These two groups are very different,  very female, and capable of kicking enormous amounts of physical, moral, and narrative ass.

An action movie with one good female character who operates independently of male heroes and villians is rare enough.  An ultra violent action movie with a female lead and a whole bunch of other powerful women … is so remarkable as to be unprecedented.  And to have it be an excellent movie in all respects,  with tons of great visuals and a stylish and simple plot? That’s crazy.

That’s Fury Road.  Highly recommended.  Strange as it is.

Oh, and internet scuttlebutt says the old biker ladies did their own stunts.


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