I’m still kind of bathing in the afterglow. For me, Mad Max: Fury Road was as much an experience as a movie. I was just so astounded and invested by what was happening up there on the screen, I really didn’t want to leave the movie theatre.
It helped that I saw it at a VIP theatre with large, comfy chairs and bar service. Yes, that helped, until I had to miss a few minutes of the movie while I used the bathroom – something I don’t remember ever doing except at the drive-ins I went to as a teenager, which were really just massive booze ups.
It’s hard to say how this fits into the Mad Max franchise, and I don’t think it really matters. There are links to the other movies, but there are also some hints that this isn’t the Max we know – I mean other than being represented by Tom Hardy instead of Mel Gibson.
If you thought Mad Max: the Road Warrior had too many quiet moments, Fury Road fixes that issue. This movie is so full of action, it very, very rarely slows down. To me, this was a good thing. I have heard criticism elsewhere that there is no character development, and I would agree with that. I just don’t think it matters. Max does have a very slight character arc, but it is the same arc we saw in the Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – Max is cynical, he doesn’t want to get involved, but events force him to make a moral choice and he makes the right one.
For me, Fury Road is distinct from the other Mad Max movies both in its lavish visuals – none of the movies are poorly shot, but Fury Road takes it to another level – and Max’s role in the movie. He is kind of a sidekick to Charlize Theron’s character, Imperator Furiosa. I don’t see this as a bad thing, and it might be a very interesting direction in which to take the series. Max is still awesome, but he is in someone else’s story and she is as awesome as him. It’s the dramatic analogue of Big Trouble in Little China, in which our point of view character is actually the sidekick, and possibly the comic relief.
Mad Max could move forward with Max intersecting with other character’s stories, being the uber-competent and kind of unwilling sidekick, but then being the character that actually provides the key to a successful conclusion of the story. In Fury Road, he is part of Furiosa’s story, though never secondary. Then, at a key decision point, he persuades the other characters to follow his instincts, and this is indispensable for Furiosa’s story. He is required in the story, even if he is not the main character. I think this could be a really interesting take on Max, allowing us to see other heroes of the wasteland, but having Max as a pivotal, essential character.
In the end, this movie is as close to perfect as I can imagine. I need to see it once or twice more, because I think the full experience of the movie may have blinded me to any weaknesses.
I give Mad Max: Fury Road 4.9 flying steering wheels out of 5. Nothing is perfect, but right now it feels likes Fury Road comes damn close.