Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron
Five out of five stars
These directors are household names, and there are certainly one more you should add to that list -- George Miller. Why he isn’t on the list already is a mystery. He’s a four-times-nominated Oscar-winner with an impressive resume of hits, including the original "Mad Max" movie trilogy, which has inspired no end of imitators.
When this week is over, George Miller will certainly be a household name, thanks to his fourth "Mad Max" film: "Mad Max: Fury Road."
The film begins with leather-clad, hirsute Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) overlooking a barren desert landscape. We hear Max ruminating about the condition of this post-apocalyptic world and his place in it. His voice is so deep, so guttural and filled with emotion, it rattles your bones and slaps your soul.
It’s not long before a group of War Boys rain down on Max and take him back to the Citadel, the lair of Immortan Joe -- a menacing, disgusting concoction of boils, long gray hair and a face mask that would scare Freddy Krueger. He is a nightmare -- but unlike Taylor Swift, he’s not dressed like a daydream. He rules the Citadel with an iron fist, hoarding this world’s most precious commodity, water, while breeding War Boys to do his bidding.
What we know about Max we learn through haunting, brilliantly realized flashbacks. He’s the epitome of silent rage and heartbreak, a survivor who doesn’t want to die, though he isn’t really alive. Let’s leave it there, because while he’s the title character, Max is not the star of this show.
Meet Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. She drives one of the Joe’s war machines. You have to be several steps beyond tough for this particular job: It involves handling a mechanized rig on hostile desert roads, where you’re almost certain to encounter multiple entities who want to kill you. Sounds like a terrible gig, and it is -- but in this time and place, it’s good work if you can get it.
Furiosa’s not only harboring ill feelings toward Joe, she’s also smuggling his five ridiculously stunning wives out of the Citadel. That infuriates Joe, who unleashes his army of War Boys on Furiosa, setting up a chain of events that will allow her and Max to meet.
That’s really all I want to tell you about the plot. Please go discover the rest for yourself. What I do want you to know is in Furiosa, Miller and Theron have teamed up to give us one of the greatest female action characters of all time. And I didn’t even get to Nicholas Hoult’s excellent performance as War Boy Nux, or the quiet brilliance of Hardy as Max. I’m only allowed so many words.
Not one frame of this movie is wasted. It feels as if every moment is loaded with conflict: Visually stunning, aurally pleasing, impactful conflict. Joe’s army of tricked-out, rusty, all-terrain vehicles even comes with drummers, and a guitar player who seems as if he was bred from the DNA of Eddie Van Halen, Gene Simmons and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
With "Mad Max: Fury Road," George Miller has created a beautiful, raucous, violent cinematic symphony unlike anything we’ve ever before experienced. If his one Oscar is lonely, it may be getting some company real soon.