When I hear the term “re-boot” it is usually code for “We made it suck.” The second Star Wars trilogy is a good example, as are the J.J. Abrams Star Trek flicks. When it comes to the Mad Max franchise, I was disappointed with Beyond Thunderdome (1985), which came out well before the word "re-boot" had entered the language. While a good trailer can sell any movie at first, word gets out pretty quickly. I was excited to see Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), but my expectations were low. So with these inherent prejudices in mind, it is my delight to report that Fury Road is everything we would want from a Mad Max film, and more. I thought it was fantastic.
All of the Mad Max features have been directed by George Miller, who understands his post-apocalyptic world better than anyone else possibly could. The world is a desert, and clans chase each other around in the most insane vehicles wearing the most outlandish costumes imaginable. Mad Max (1979) introduced Max (Mel Gibson) as a former cop who loses it after his family is murdered. The Road Warrior was the home run (1981). It remains of the greatest action pictures I have ever seen. Beyond Thunderdome (1985) was the third and presumably final entry, and I thought it committed the cardinal sin of being boring. But I have watched The Road Warrior a good hundred times on home video and still love it.
Miller took 30 years to follow Thunderdome, and against all odds, he absolutely got it right. Leaving Tina Turner out was a good start, as was getting back on the road. I was enjoying the movie so much at a sneak preview that I did not take any notes, so this is going to be less of a review, and more like a hearty cheer. If you loved The Road Warrior, you will love Fury Road. It really is as simple as that. Gibson is obviously way too old to play Max today and is something of a Hollywood pariah these days anyway. He is nowhere to be found. Max is played by Tom Hardy, a great English actor.
Basically, as little plot development as possible finds Max leading a group out of the bowels of Hell and onto a fabled Promised Land. In this case, the people he is helping are damsels in distress. The warlord has a harem of beautiful wives who he plans on repopulating the world with. The Eves to his Adam I suppose. This sets up the first mighty chase, which is what we came for. When they do reach their destination, it no longer exists. There are nothing but crows and buzzards waiting for them. So the group decides to turn around and take over the warlord’s domain. And this gives us the second great chase sequence.
I would venture to say that upwards of 80 percent of Fury Road is the two chase scenes, and that is the way it should be. The director knows his audience, and gives them what they want with some brilliant action. There is so much going on in each frame that I will need to see this one a few times, and that is the biggest thumbs-up I can offer.
Rave review from this sneak-peaker, and the 3-D effects are dazzling. I doubt that Fury Road will topple Age of Ultron at the box office, that is a tall order. But it is everything I had hoped it would be and more. If you have been waiting for the true sequel to The Road Warrior, Mad Max: Fury Road is it. Miller got it spectacularly right.