After sweeping the tech Oscar awards, it should come as no surprise that MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is a technical marvel. It almost makes you glad it was in development hell for almost 20 years, as some of the stunts and CGI could not have been done (or at least not done as well) had it been made back then. But beyond these technical aspects, is the movie good?
Max is a loner in a post apocalyptic world covered by desert. Getting around without vehicles is practically impossible. There are still spots where people can manage to live, and warlord Immortan Joe rules over one particular area, secluded in mountains with drills to access water deep below, with an iron hand. Max is captured by his forces to be used as “blood bag” to help heal Immortan Joe’s soldiers. When Imperator Furiosa, one of the ruler’s top commanders, deserts with five of his wives in tow to find a better life, a chase begins and Max is brought along. A giant sandstorm separates Max and the soldier he is hooked up to from the rest of Immortan Joe’s forces, and he joins Imperator Furiosa in her quest for the “green land” she remembers from her childhood.
The film does an excellent job at world building. There are no awkward info dumps, the viewer is just thrust into the world and slowly gets a sense of the planet in these characters’ time. Unfortunately, the plot is a little lacking. Other than a predictable twist, there is not much more to it than the synopsis above. For what it is, the story does work, but in such a rich world it seems a waste to not do more for the plot.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD knows what it is (that is, a thrill-fest) and does that incredibly well. Cinephiles might come a while disappointed, as this is a far cry from Tarkovsky or PTA, and there is not much beyond the surface. As for others, the simple plot does not hold up upon second viewings as well as one would hope, but again, director George Miller knew what he wanted to do with this movie and he checked every box on his chart, and first watches are bound to blow away many viewers.
Looking back over the technical side, it’s hard to imagine a better film from the past year. If it had not competed with THE REVENANT for best cinematography, it would have been a strong contender for that category.
All in all, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is worth at least a watch from even the snobbiest of moviegoers and will be regarded as a masterpiece of science fiction. And while I would hesitate to rank it with, say, Wong Kar Wai or Kubrick, it is definitely on the next tier. The technical aspects alone ensure that it will be remembered and perhaps even studied for some time to come. Even if it is not your usual type of film, give it a try.