2000 horsepower of nitro-fueled war machine
It’s been 30 years since Mad Max went Beyond Thunderdome, and 34(!) since the world learned the story of the Road Warrior. The wait has been so long that one wonders if anything could possibly live up to the dream of a sequel truly worthy of the name Mad Max.
Well I’m here to tell you that not only is Mad Max: Fury Road the best action movie of 2015 – it’s the best action movie since Terminator 2: Judgment Day hit theatres in 1991. Quite simply, Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best action films ever made.
No fate but what we make
When I was nine years old I took a ten hour ferry to visit my father in Prince Rupert, BC. In the summers he worked tirelessly as a commercial fisherman, catching salmon and halibut on the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands. When either his boat was at capacity with fish or supplies were low, he’d journey back to the mainland to deliver the catch and stock up.
On this trip I had one thing on my mind: I had seen advertisements on television and in magazines for Terminator 2, and as a young artist with a growing love of science fiction, it looked like everything I wanted to see in a movie.
My mother wasn’t keen on the idea of taking an impressionable adolescent to an R-rated film. Lucky for me my dad was open to the idea, and after his deckhand gave the movie a glowing review, we were off to one of the most decrepit movie theatres I’ve ever been in to watch a sequel to a movie I hadn’t even seen.
Terminator 2 blew my 9-year-old mind.
I nearly shit my pants when the first skull was suddenly crushed by a T-800 stepping down from off screen, and my knuckles were white for the subsequent two hours as my finger dug into the seat. My passion for movies was lit with the nuclear fire that ended the world in Terminator 2. I was never the same – I changed.
Fury Road reignited my passion for film like a high-octane adrenaline shot.
Get away from her you BITCH
I was too young to see Aliens. Not yet a teenager, I was confident that having seen Alien already (when I was too young for many of the techniques to work on me) that surely a movie with a few more monsters in it wouldn’t be too bad. My babysitter at the time agreed to rent it and watch it with me. She was barely older than I was.
It terrified me. I jumped at every scare, from the first facehugger flailing around in its container to the endless onslaught of monsters gradually overwhelming and slaughtering all the main characters. My blanket was clutched tightly for two and a half hours of adrenaline.
That young, it never occurred to me that Sigourney Weaver would be the main character. It also never occurred to me that she couldn’t be. When she took charge of the crumbling team of marines and led them through their alien-infested hell, it never seemed like it was an unusual thing. And when she was the only one left to go back and rescue her surrogate daughter, armed to the teeth with a bandolier of grenades, a pulse rifle, and a flame thrower, I never questioned why she was badass – she just was.
Weaver was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Ellen Ripley in 1986, and while there has been a far-too-small number of female action heroes since then, nobody has come close.
Until now. Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is the biker-clad-badass beating heart of Fury Road, showing that the trail blazed by Weaver’s performance decades ago isn’t dead, it was simply dormant. Few characters – let alone women – have ever been shown to be this fierce, this driven, this strong. Theron’s Furiosa is every bit as capable as Tom Hardy’s Max Rockatansky, and in many ways she is stronger.
Max is a survivor. Furiosa has a mission.
Fury Road is female action heroes done right.
My world is fire and blood
George Miller is 70 years old. It has been 30 years since he last did a Mad Max film, instead going in what seems at this point to go in another random direction – nobody could have guessed following The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome that he would make films like Lorenzo’s Oil, Babe, and Happy Feet. Everyone feared he had gone soft.
Instead, Miller brought 75-year-old Director of Photography John Seale out of retirement to film the most energetic and visceral chase film in decades. These geriatrics just threw down the gauntlet and kicked every current and aspiring action filmmaker in the groin.
They say “they don’t make them like they used to” about so many things, but in the case of Mad Max: Fury Road, it rings true in a new way. George Miller just made the best action film in decades by doing it old school, with as few computer-generated fx as possible, and with creativity, vision, and audacity. He just reminded the cinema world that you only use crutches when you need to – overloading your film with CGI cheapens the experience; crashes and explosions thrill you in Fury Road because you know they are real – just like in The Road Warrior.
Complimenting the frenetic action of Fury Road is perfect editing (the best since last year’s Whiplash), an utterly intense score by Junkie XL that maintains the pressure throughout the film, and incredible performances delivered by top tier actors with almost no dialogue to work with. There is more dialogue between the lines in Fury Road than a Tarantino film – It’s all in the eyes.
I’m not going to talk about plot. I have no desire to spoil this experience for anyone. Instead, I’ll leave you with this: Fury Road made me feel like a 9-year-old boy seeing the definitive 90s action film with his dad; Fury Road made me feel exhilarated the same way I did when Sigourney Weaver threw an alien queen out an airlock; Fury Road made me grip the edge of my seat like the best thrillers ever made, but it also did it while being creative in new and refreshing ways.
Fury Road is a cinematic experience not to be missed, and one of my top films of all time. A couple grumpy old men just kicked the action world’s teeth in to show them how its done, and all I want to say is thank you.