Mad Max: Fury Road is like a bolt of non-stop energy that begins as soon as it starts and doesn’t let up till the last frame of the film has finished and you’re walking back to your car.
The film opens with Max (Tom Hardy) standing alone, looking out on the barren wasteland of desert. As a two headed lizard wanders towards him, Max steps on it, flips it up to his hand and shoves it in his mouth. From that, we’re off and running.
He’s captured by a group of War Boys who plan to use him as a blood bank for fellow boy, Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Meanwhile, Furiosa (Charlize Theron), has been designated by the King to take a War Rig and fetch gasoline but she’s got other plans. She’s taken the King’s prized breeders (Zoë Kravitz, Riley Keough, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and hidden them inside the rig. What follows is a massive and intense chase through the wasteland where Max is forced to choose to survive on his own or help Furiosa with carry out her plan to save the enslaved women and bring them to the “green place.”
The story is fairly simple but from this simplicity comes greatness and director George Miller deserves every kind of praise he’s getting. It’s basically one big long action sequence but inside this mayhem, we get a story that’s interesting and character driven.
At one point, Furiosa tells Max that she’s looking for “redemption.” But really, every character here is looking for that, including Max and Nuz. Max’s only instinct is to survive. He doesn’t trust anyone and for good reason. But when he’s finally faced with the choice of helping or leaving, he chooses the latter. Hardy doesn’t say much in the film but he doesn’t need to. His Max is pure survival and instinct. There’s no need to talk because he can read a person and tell their intentions within seconds. Hoult’s Nuz is like a beaten puppy. His instinct is to kill and take because he’s never known anything but that. But when someone finally shows a dog compassion, that dog is theirs forever.
Really though, this is Theron’s film. She’s the catalyst for everything and Max is only alone for the ride. Theron is a total badass and I love that we have this lead female driving the story in one of the best action films of the past couple years. In fact, it’s all about the women here. The breeders, Theron and a set of older women we see towards the middle of the film kick some major butt, saving Max more than once. Probably more than 10 times actually. Think of how many young women will watch this and be empowered?
After watching Fury Road, I really hope directors take a cue from Miller. There can be story in action. There can be kickass females in films. And sometimes, even the strongest of men need a woman to kill a gun wielding War Boy.