At first glance this movie looks kinda dumb: a bunch of leather-clad bald guys wearing guy-liner in the desert, waiting for afterlife, and accompanied by an epic violin/drum mix. Or in other words, the 1980’s. But never fear; I can assure you that Mad Max: Fury Road is one straight shot of stupid… In the best. Possible. Way.
Other than narration, I think Max (Tom Hardy) speaks his first line thirty minutes into the film. In fact, if not for the title, the only name we would have for him is “Blood Bag”. Max is a slave and constant blood donor to the War Boy, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), although Max’s blood-drainage and Nux’s eventual lack of supply seem to have absolutely no effect on either of their physical well beings. Both live under the rule of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) a water-hording, tyrannical, rock metal version of Darth Vader. When Furiosa (Charlize Theron) smuggles Immortan Joe’s five wives out of the city in hopes of delivering them to a better life, Joe hunts her down with an entire army of zombified cult followers – including Nux and Blood Bag/Max. Mad Max is basically one long, desert “car” chase in vehicles fashioned out of scraps, sculls, and your regrets from the 80’s.
Rule #1: Almost anything can be fixed with a little more dirt. One obvious side effect to driving through the desert is that things are bound to get a little dusty. It seems a common practice in Mad Max that if something breaks you shower it in sand. Literally rubbing some dirt on it. The engine’s on fire? Rub some dirt on it. Bunch of radicals chasing us? Lose them in a dust storm. Car flipped over? Put your face in the dirt and eat it.
Rule #2: Applying makeup while driving is only acceptable if it’s gear grease and you frequently feast on the souls of the damned. There are two kinds of women in this film: beautiful baby-makers with a bite, and hardcore stoics with fully loaded shotguns. Every other character is a man. There’s an entire city populated with pale, bald, black-eyed men who literally rule from on high. In contrast, Furiosa brings a badass degree of feminine tenacity in just about everything she does – including the embracing of the dirt. True heroes eat motor oil for breakfast.
Rule #3: Amp it up. I can imagine a producer/director conversation going something like this:
“The pursuit army is missing something.”
“How about a guy playing electric guitar battle music on the hood of a truck with 20 speakers?”
“A Cirque du Soleil performer in bungee cords?”
“Bingo.” Rule #4: Tom Hardy must wear a metal mask. Covering his face and making it hard for us to understand has worked pretty damn well in the past. Why fix what ain’t broke?
Mad Max covers a few basic movie elements but it covers them very, very well. Car chases: exciting. Creative weaponry: up the wazoo. Tortured characters in search of peace and justice: one guzzle-ine-dipped, flaming check. The cinematography has just a hint of Tarantino, with unnaturally quick zooms and sped-up action. It’s a gory movie with a post-apocalyptic concept so wild you can’t help but be equally enraptured, horrified, and tickled pink. One could almost say it’s ridiculous… to the Max! Sorry… Mad Max is an action-packed ball of blazing absurdity in the most thrilling way. 8.5/10.