There’s a scene in “Mad Max: Fury Road” where you’re watching Tom Hardy’s titular character rise slowly out of the sand.
You hear every little speck of sand shaking loose from his body from his head downward. Every sound is intensified tenfold until Hardy’s character stands tall and comes to his senses.
That sort of attention to detail makes “Fury Road” incredible.
For those unfamiliar with “Mad Max,” “Fury Road” is the fourth instalment in the George Miller franchise which started in 1979 with Mel Gibson. Without too many spoilers, in the original, Max Rockatansky was a patrol officer in a dystopian Australia, before he lost everything of value to him. His further adventures involve putting others lives ahead of his own.
Max’s origin story isn’t imperative to the new film, though.
It took Miller over 15 years to bring “Fury Road” to the screen after delays and reshoots, and it was well worth the wait.
“Fury Road” may just be the best movie you’ll see all summer.
It’s definitely the best film so far this year.
While much of the two-hour extravaganza starring Hardy and Charlize Theron is a wild non-stop car chase, it’s so much more than that.
The entirety is a delicious assault on both your visual cortex and auditory system — a giant orchestral blend of machine engines roaring and wheels peeling combined with a booming overture of drums and guitar.
The lighting and visuals are a work of art to behold. As others have noted, you could watch this film in silence and just be blown away by the contrasting browns of the desert sands against the piercing blue skies and eyes of Theron and Hardy.
There’s a short leg of the film where everyone is cast in a soft blue gradient. It’s like watching the film under a filter, and it’s beautiful.
Staying true to the character, Hardy’s Max doesn’t say much — often speaking in grunts or with simple gestures — but he doesn’t need to. The smallest movement of his eyes or gestures do the talking. Most of the time, he’s a terrifying badass who eats lizards raw and can take down a pack of men single-handedly without blinking an eye.
Both he and Theron’s Imperator Furiosa (one of many lavish names in the film) are a ragged tag-team of warriors who you can’t get enough of on screen.
And the guitar man. Oh the guitar man.
You know who I’m talking about if you’ve seen the trailers — the wild guitarist playing his own personal concert atop a spectacular Macy’s Day Parade-like vehicle. Every time he comes on screen, you can’t help but grin because it’s so utterly over the top that it’s just another welcome addition to the mixed bag of eccentric characters on display.
One thing that may surprise you given the film’s testosterone-heavy marketing in trailers is that it’s driven by a female-centric storyline. Going in with little expectations having only watched the first “Mad Max,” I was ready for an all-out bro-movie filled with car chases, brawls, and mindless fun. While you certainly get all of that, you get a bit more, too, and it’s refreshingly welcome.
The film follows Furiosa (Theron) as she helps five “brides” (including Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, and the wonderful Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) escape a breeding circle responsible for birthing future members of the villain’s War Boy group. Max just happens to get tangled up in this whole charade. (A bit of wrong place wrong time.)
While the movie clocks in at two hours, it feels like it goes on for longer, and it’s one of the rare times you won’t think that’s a bad thing.
Just when you think it may end, it kicks back up and revs into high gear. The entire final stretch of the film is on an entirely different level, which is sort of strange to say because the whole movie is on an entirely different level.
Imagine a gorgeously wild and hellish “Wacky Races” meets “Twisted Metal” (replace the scary clown face from the popular game with Max’s Immortan Joe). Numerous parties engage in combat — some hanging from wiry poles that would make Cirque du Soleil members jealous.
For the final 30 minutes or so, I surrendered myself to the film, dropping my pad and pen with which I usually jot down notes to claw nervously into my cheeks and the back of my neck, awaiting the uncertain fate of our film’s protagonists over a majestic desert car battle.
That feeling of your heart beating in your chest, having no idea what’s coming next is what you head to the movies for, and the 70-year-old Miller more than delivers.
As far as any viewer will be concerned, this is a great cinematic triumph.
If you’re going to see a movie this weekend, or this summer, make it “Mad Max.”
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is in theatres Friday, May 15.
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