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Mad Max

'Mad Max: Fury Road' is Maniacal Inferno

TV/Film ReviewEthan WilliamsComment

I'd say it's a great sign you've enjoyed the climax of a movie if your gut reaction is to scream at the screen with your heart pounding a thousand times per second.

And I'd also say it's a huge testament to the power of cinema that the image of Mad Max swinging on a pole thirty feet in the air as a tanker explodes behind him will be forever seared in my brain and will never cease to bring a smile to my face.

In fact there are countless unforgettably powerful frames like that one and it's absolutely incredible to feel like we are now truly seeing the Mad Max that George Miller wanted to make. It's a movie where you can feel so much heart and passion behind the camera that every frame feels just full of unbridled filmmaking glee.

From the first frame it's clear that this is a new breed of Mad Max film. While retaining that wonderful post-apocalypse fantasy Miller built over 30 years ago, the 70 year old must have starting huffing nitroglycerin because Fury Road has an electric pace unlike anything ever seen in the series before.

Miller continues his gasoline-doused fairy tale by centering on Max Rockatansky's capture by the cultists that worship the brutish and menacing Immortan Joe, played by the Toecutter himself (Hugh Keays-Byrne) in incredible form. Immortan Joe treats objects like women, man and Miller gives us a little taste of girl power as Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiousa and her band of kickass women decide to take the power back and blow some shit up along with Max's help.

It develops into a rollicking chase film that takes no prisoners, full of fire and bloodshed and setpiece after brilliant setpiece, concluding with a climactic showdown that even kinda puts The Road Warrior's ending to shame (it hurt to type that). Seriously the finale of this movie is something to be cherished as a once in a lifetime experience that I doubt you'll ever forget. It brought tears to my eyes and I couldn't even believe it was real.

And while bringing the original director back can be a bit tricky and could've been a move more motivated by nostalgia, Fury Road proves without a doubt that it's Miller's taste for fire and blood that makes the Mad Max films really zing. He must have been cooking up crazy idea after crazy idea over these 30 years and Fury Road is an imagination unleashed. From every car morphed into a hulking beast, every misshapen and disgusting denizen of the Wasteland and every deftly orchestrated explosion it's clear that George Miller thought modern audiences needed to see his new vision of Mad Max. And oh how right he was.

I could totally have seen a younger director taking the reins on this project but still being weighed down by the pressure to "pay homage" and this would have been yet another reboot that fizzled and died. Instead George Miller made off with about 150 million of Warner Brothers' money and came back with a dizzying passion project bathed in sound and fury.

While the originals will always have their low-budget charm and incredible stuntwork that stands the test of time, Fury Road embraces the innovations of digital technology to create a Mad Max adventure unlike anything we could have imagined. It’s a beautifully colored and expertly choreographed testament to the idea that practical stunts and digital effects should be used side by side in order to tell the most rollicking story possible.

Miller's fantasy becomes transcendental, defying us to pry ourselves away and come down to earth. It's an action movie for the ages: one that will be studied as a paragon of the genre, just like its 30 year old predecessors.