The first reviews of “Mad Max: Fury Road” are in and they’re unsurprisingly positive, seeing as critics have been hinting at how much they loved it for weeks now. In fact, the studio moved the “Fury Road” embargo up in order to release the flood just a little bit earlier Director George Miller’s welcome return to the “Mad Max” franchise signals a very strong start to the summer blockbuster season, with many critics saying “Fury Road” has some of the best action filmmaking in years. The film contains all of Miller’s trademarks – sparse dialogue and plot, eye-popping costume design, practical stunts – and though it’s bombastic and excessive (what with its $150 million budget), it’s an exercise in controlled chaos. Tom Hardy functions as a fantastic replacement for Mel Gibson as the quiet, forceful Max Rockatansky, and Charlize Theron shines as Imperator Furiosa, both of whom are trying to cross a large desert while on the run from a fascist gang. “Fury Road” is a nice antidote to the poisonous culture of big-budget films marketed to teenagers, and hopefully all these good reviews will put people in theaters so we can have more singular blockbuster films again.
Reviews of “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
Miller has taken great care in tricking-out every big
rig and monster truck, somehow keeping all their nutso embellishments—which
allow for attacks both blunt and acrobatic—from tipping into silliness. Even the
war boy who leads the enemy army with his blaring electric guitar (a battle
horn for a metal era), a speaker array mounted on some kind of enormous
gas-guzzler, feels oddly credible in this maniac story. Miller keeps things
tactile and visceral; each vehicular assault is beguilingly immediate and
frightening. These operatic sequences are wild to behold, but theirs is an
ordered kind of chaos, Miller’s camera deftly maneuvering complicated action
scenes that are, in the motorized world he’s made, constantly moving. (John
Seale did the vibrant cinematography, he and Miller judiciously dropping
frames to create jittery images of mayhem and melee.)
Russ Fischer, /FILM
“Fury Road” has some of the
clearest action direction I’ve seen in any film. There’s never a point in where
I was at a loss for where characters were, what they were moving toward, and
how the many intersecting paths lead to important collisions. Major and minor
characters are tracked through the constantly-moving chaos, and Miller, cinematographer
John Seale, and editor Margaret Sixel juggle them all without
dropping a single one.
Scott Mendelson, Forbes
Yes, there are moments of plot and character
development, and the long chase is broken up into three acts, but the film is
indeed a near non-stop barrage of eye-popping action and gloriously impressive
stunt work. I presume most of the stunts and crashes were accomplished
practically. I don’t know how much of the action is wholly practical and how
much of it was achieved or at least enhanced with digital wizardry. So let me
compliment both sides of the equation by stating that I believed my eyes
for every single crowd pleasing moment. The only unbelievable part is that no
one was seriously hurt or killed during the making of this picture. I cannot
overstate the quality of the mayhem we see onscreen, both in terms of the
vehicular carnage and how much each crash and near miss matters in terms of the
story being told. There are real artistry and poetry to the onscreen
chaos. This is a spectacular action picture that slowly morphs into an
out-and-out great film.
Robbie Collin, Telegraph
compounds the fun is “Fury Road’s” wholesale rejection of the generally accepted
blockbuster code of conduct, which dictates that expensive films have to be
marketable to teenagers but still watchable by eight-year-olds in order to
maximize box-office returns. Whether or not Miller was aware of these unspoken
conventions, he has ploughed a blazing petrol tanker right through the middle
of them. “Fury Road” takes a Rabelaisian delight in grotesque bodies, and the
various ways in which they can be made to splatter, burn and pop.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Max: Fury Road” is almost a silent film in its way.
Dialogue is at a minimum, and when Max says anything it is usually preceded by
an eccentric rumbling, mumbling mmmm sound, like a macho Mr Bean. He is
impassive, to say the least: the nearest Tom Hardy’s Max comes to an emotional
outburst is when Splendid does something very brave while hanging on to the
side of the truck. Max gives her a little smile and boyish thumbs-up. It’s the
Mad Max equivalent of hugging her and declaiming: “Darling, your courage is
magnificent.” And when Nux wishes to express defiance or euphoria, he sprays
his mouth with silver-grey paint, to make his face look even more like a skull.
That is pretty dysfunctional.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx
Charlize Theron plays Imperator Furiosa, who is
probably the main character of this movie (she has the most to say, at least).
She frees a group of five women who were the wives of a local dictator named
Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). As she races across the desert with these
women, she’s chased by Immortan Joe’s gang, which includes a captured Max
Rockatansky (Nicholas Hoult’s character, Nux, is using Max’s blood as some sort
of personal rejuvenation project…this is a really weird movie).
Eventually, Max escapes and teams up with Furiosa and off we go. The whole
movie is one big long car chase across the desert, filled with stunts and car
wrecks and a noticeable lack of CGI. Watching “Mad Max: Fury Road” is like
watching the circus. It really is just non-stop “stuff,” but not in an
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush
In fact, Miller’s pivoted away from the peak oil subtext of “The Road Warrior” and replaced it with an ecological message. Instead of gas, the characters in “Fury Road” are chasing water, a canny subject for a movie opening in the midst of a historic California drought. Immortan Joe controls his citadel by lording over its underground reservoir, while Furiosa races to return to the idyllic oasis of “The Green Place.” Everything between those two locations is dry, barren desert, an ideal setting for Miller’s epic chase scenes. (With its endless vistas and tiny automobiles dwarfed by giant mountains and sand dunes, “Fury Road” is like the “Lawrence of Arabia” of car movies.) Though there’s barely any dialogue in “Fury Road” (and most of it is drowned out by the sound of roaring engines), the film is also a pointed critique of a world where men seek to control, possess, and repress women.
Jen Yamato, The Daily Beast
Descended from a matriarchal clan of lady warriors
and kidnapped by Immortan Joe’s goons as a child, Theron’s Furiosa is, like
Max, a hero of few words hauling around her share of emotional baggage. Forced
to adopt masculine armor to survive in an unforgiving male-dominated society,
she sports an androgynous shaved head and a mechanical arm; deliberately
de-sexualized, she’s literally missing a part of herself. By the time we meet
her she’s already risked her hard-won station to reclaim the identity she’s
spent a lifetime suppressing and rejoin the female race.
David Ehrlich, Time Out New York
But the key to this symphony of twisted metal is how the film never
forgets that violence is a form of madness. Miller’s world is an unvarnished
portrait of man at his most primitive, and the subjugation of women has been a
recurring motif. With Furiosa behind the wheel, though, “Fury Road” steers
this testosterone-soaked franchise in a brilliant new direction, forging a
mythical portrait about the urgent need for female rule in a world where men
need to be saved from themselves.
Justin Chang, Variety
We are, admittedly, a long
way from the lean, unnerving outback fable of “Mad Max” (1979), and an even
longer way from the weirdly arresting, kid-friendly detours of “Mad Max Beyond
Thunderdome” (1985). Vastly more complex on a technical scale but simpler on a
conceptual one, “Fury Road” is, for all intents and purposes, a two-hour car
chase interrupted by a brief stretch of anxious downtime, and realized with the
sort of deranged grandiosity that confirms Miller’s franchise has entered its
decadent phase. All the more remarkable, then, that the movie still manages to
retain its focus, achieving at once a shrewd distillation and a ferocious
acceleration of its predecessors’ sensibility. There is gargantuan excess here,
to be sure — and no shortage of madness — but there is also an astonishing
level of discipline.
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
The first two “Max” features ran barely 90
minutes and it takes guts and real confidence to dare push a straight chase
film with very little dialogue to two hours. But Miller has pulled it off by
coming up with innumerable new elements to keep the action compelling: The
pitiless mindset of a brutish-minded society; bending poles sticking up from
vehicles that allow marauders atop them to by lowered into enemy trucks for
hand-to-hand combat; an insane heavy metal guitarist affixed to one of the
Citadel’s rigs, whose raucous wailings and flame-throwing ability perfectly
express this world’s extremity; and a central woman, missing one arm, who’s as
tough-minded as any man but also retains a special link to a remote society of
women she intends to find.
Josh Dickey, Mashable
I dare anyone to see “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Jurassic World” back-to-back (which will be possible, since “Max” is sure to last more than a month in theaters) and declare that the two are of the same artistic medium. They are not. One is a grand, handcrafted mixed-media installation of grit and weight and sweat and slapstick and substance and cameras careening through the Namibian desert, the other is Chris Pratt and PhotoShop.
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
Over the course of two hours, there are times when the pattern of tense shootouts and erratic outbursts strain from redundancy. Miller sometimes emphasizes the over-the-top zaniness to a distracting degree. (One recurring flourish, a lunatic guitarist on a moving platform blasting out distorted riffs alongside the action, feels too excessive for its own good.) Nevertheless, Miller keeps the action fluid from scene to scene, offering a bracing alternative to countless murky CGI spectacles that dominate Hollywood studio product today. In “Fury Road,” special effects come secondary to the visual marvels of the color palette meted out by cinematographer John Seale at every turn.
Jordan Hoffman, Popular Mechanics
There follows much smashing, bashing, leaping, and teaming-up, until eventually Max, Nux and Furiosa all become pals and decide to take down Joe. Why, exactly? Not that important. More important is setting up the next kinetic action sequence, and the way that this movie nails its look. There are shady traders looking for “guzzolene” that look like Star Wars sand people wearing ski goggles from 1987. There are stilt-walking raven people skulking around in the muck. There’s a pustule-rich fat man dressed like a banker from 1890 with nipple clamps. Every single costume in this movie is better than the last. Every shot is (and I summon this word from deep within my inner 13-year-old boy) awesome. The knives have bone handles. The fleeing wives have chastity belts with skulls. One of the gas pedals is actually an old school shoe store foot measuring device. I can’t wait til someone starts screencapping this movie.