Mad Max: Fury Road review

By Ramon Mejia

If you have never seen any of the Mad Max movies or are unfamiliar with the franchise, then Mad Max: Fury Road will likely leave you feeling confused. The person I saw the movie with summarized their review of the film in a single word, “What??” However, to be fair they walked into this movie having never watched Mad Max before. I give the movie the same review but for different reasons.

First, the positive points of the film. There is plenty of action in this movie. There are a lot car chases. There are even scantily clad women in need of rescuing. Surely, this classic mix is a recipe for a great action movie. However, this is both a blessing and curse for the film. Mad Max: Fury Road shines when it is an action movie. If your expectations are any higher then you will be disappointed.

If you’re looking for a deep character driven movie with a rich plot, you’re looking at the wrong movie.   Mad Max: Fury Road is best described as one long car chase. A long, long, long car chase. The movie runs 120 minutes but feels like 150 minutes. There are plenty of action moments. A variety of four and two wheeled death machines chasing our main characters. There are plenty attempts to kill, maim, and recapture. However, the excitement of those chases wears off at about the 90 minute mark. The quiet moments of the film serve as balancing counter points to the action but also stretch the movie out. Overall, Fury Road is a good action movie, but due to pacing issues it doesn’t quiet live up to the Mad Max 80’s franchise.

The Main Characters

The heroes of the Fury Road are Mad Max and Furiosa. Mad Max (Max Rockatansky) is played by Tom Hardy, who’s most famous role was in the movie Inception. The movie does a weird job of portraying Tom Hardy as an action figure haunted by an unspecified and tragic past. We see this tragic past through a series of brief hallucinations of children and women he was unable to save sometime in the past. If you’ve seen the previous movies [ Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2 (1981), Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome (1985) ] you might assume it is some of those characters but it is never specified or resolved in any way.

Charlize Theron plays Imperator Furiosa, or that woman with the bionic arm from the trailer. In all honesty, I’d say Charlize Theron plays a larger role in the movie than Tom Hardy does. If anyone should have taken the mantle of Mad Max it should have been her. Furiosa is the relatable underdog character I was hoping to see Mad Max be. Within moments of being introduced to her character, I cared more about Furiosa and her quest than I ever came to care about Max. Furiosa not only gets a larger emotional range but also kicks the bad buys butts. 

The villain of the movie, Immorta Joe, is played by Hugh Keays-Byrne. Keays-Byrne is an Australian actor best known for his work there in film and theater. He plays a wonderfully dislikable villain who’s outside appearance match his twisted sense of ownership over all he controls. The other villains in the movie are disposable cannon fodder for the most part.

The real star of Fury Road is the world of Mad Max. The desolate, arid landscape give you the immediate sense that the world has had enough and is actively killing all the humans it can. In one particular part of the movie it is not the raiders or killer vehicles that everyone fears. Instead every character, hero and villain alike, fear a massive tornado filled dust storm that fills the horizon. There is an every present understanding that despite any fights or battles that may go on, the largest threat to everyone in this world is nature. The audience gets the very real sense that the world will kill you in the end, whether through radiation, starvation, or dehydration.

The Bottom Line

Mad Max: Fury Road is good action movie. As long as you see the movie not expecting more than that you will likely have a good time. However if you’ve never seen a Mad Max movie, do yourself a favor and rent Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome (1985) before you step in the theatre. Otherwise you may leave with the same impression my friend had, “What??”