Screened Out – Mad Max: Fury Road

By : Stephen Miller
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Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne

Mad Max: Fury Road is chock full of testosterone – the real deal, not the fake stuff that tries too hard to cover how gay it is (see 300). My very gay best friend swore this flick made him straight for a few minutes. I mean genuinely straight, not “Republican minister straight.”

Fury Road is also filled to the brim with grit, gore, and apocalyptic car chases. Even for the dark, hopeless world it shows, it’s actually really fun! Not only a great reboot of the Mad Max franchise, this B-movie bonanza is the first great guilty pleasure of the summer.

Charlize Theron kicks ass as a one-armed warrior.

Charlize Theron kicks ass as a one-armed warrior.

Max (the always sexy Hardy) is haunted by his grim past. And who wouldn’t be. The world has barely emerged from a nuclear war. The few humans left have to scrape by. It’s kill or be killed. The earth is a giant dustbowl where water is at a premium. People are riddled with cancer, radiation poisoning and infertility.

One ferocious colony seems to be relatively thriving, led by a scary cult figure called Immortan Joe. (He’s played by Keays-Byrne, who actually played Toecutter in the first Mad Max film in 1979. Joe looks like a cross between Marlon Brando in Dr. Moreau and that skeleton on the Iron Maiden album covers.) Immortan Joe’s brainless minions enslave Hardy to give fresh blood infusions to suffering warriors.

At the same time, warrior Theron is driving across the desert to get Immortan Joe’s city more gas. (She’s got one arm; the other is a creepy, mechanical prosthetic.) Secretly Theron has stolen all of Joe’s wives – only he breeds – to deliver them to safety. Hardy is brought along to recapture Theron and the harem.

Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortal Joe is a fantastic villain.

Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe is a fantastic villain.

When the sexy wives appear – that’s where I think my friend turned straight. I myself felt a twinge. These women are so beautiful…and so clean!

What follows are many, many elaborate and grisly car chases. The film is breakneck, bloody, and wince inducing. It’s two hour of nerve-wracking action.

One of the best parts? To accompany the balls-to-the wall chase sequences, Immortan Joe has one vehicle with giant kettledrums and a man constantly playing a double electric guitar. That’s heavy metal!

Creator and director George Miller is the perfect man to deliver all the adrenaline.

Creator and director George Miller is the perfect man to deliver all the nonstop adrenaline.

Honestly, the campiness and chaos are not enough to make Fury Road a solid flick. The best action thrillers know that they have to give the protagonist a personal, emotional battle that plays well against the wall-to-wall war. Hardy’s haunted past provides that. To him, hope and virtue serve no purpose in this horrific world. Yet, Hardy’s Max often does great and noble things for others. Is it to atone for his past, or does his grief over his past actually prove that he always had a heart?

Fury Road tells it story only through action, as films like this always should do. Even when the story slows down, there’s an impending sense of dread – of the viscera and explosions to come.

Ratings Key

See it now! Buy the DVD! Quote lines at parties!

Definitely worth the price of admission

It’s useful as a distraction

Maybe if someone else pays and you need a nap

Slightly worse than eternal damnation

George Miller expertly directs all this goofiness, violence, and visual assault. He created the original world and co-wrote all the scripts. Hardy and Theron are perfect in their roles. The rest of Mad Max’s planet is equal parts grotesqueness and intrigue.

Really, Fury Road is pure B-movie bliss, told with guts and blood and bullets and metal scraping against metal. It might not turn you straight, but if you want a summer popcorn flick writ large, this one takes it to the max.

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