Upon first glance, Mad Max: Fury Road seems out of place amongst its fellow best picture nominees. There’s no biographical dramatization, no outspoken activist star. There’s not even a subtitle in sight. But there is flame-spewing punk rock guitarist chained to a thirty-foot wall of Marshall amps on the front of a semi. In other words: winnah.
From the time the opening titles roll, you’re given one calm, cozy minute to prepare. And you’ll want to. Because for the next two hours, you are going to be thrust into the biggest, most exciting action spectacle ever filmed. Director George Miller took his legendary high-octane hero and throttled him up by 2,000 RPMs, as Tom Hardy does the impossible and picks up brilliantly where Mel Gibson left off.
Hardy’s Max is near-mute and broken, but finds his strength when he steps up to defend the oppressed (but far from helpless) Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and a group of her fellow females. These women have the unenviable job description of “wives” to the uber-creepy desert despot, Mortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). It’s one near-constant, 90-miles-per-hour retreat that turns, on a hairpin curve, into a full-scale assault on evil once Max and company decide they can no longer run from the fight.
Dig a little deeper below the dusty, oil-soaked surface and you’ll find a multi-layered story of redemption and salvation that is as poignant as anything the Academy has recognized in a decade. It’s a sci-fi packaged treatise on the power of hope and—perhaps more importantly—the quest for peace even when all hope is lost.
The cinematography is breathtaking; the stunts jaw-droppingly innovative (and for the most part, CGI-free). Everything is over the top, but nothing feels out of reach.
Unlike its peers, Mad Max: Fury Road is more than a film, it is an experience—one that resonates long after the end credits. And despite its unconventionality, it absolutely deserves to be counted among the year’s best.
You’d have to be mad to disagree.