Mad Max: Fury Road (R)

Action/Adventure 120 min. May 15, 2015
By Alan Scherstuhl
You know the charge that Furious 7 feels like what you would get if you asked a Hot Wheel–loving ten-year-old to work out the beats of a screenplay? Fury Road is what the kid might dream up at fourteen, stoned at the motocross, keyed up on Mountain Dew and old Conan comics, except instead of writing a script he's lighting those Hot Wheels on fire and chucking them at your face. He's also, touchingly, a feminist — and he's touched with some genius.

In the era of greenscreened blockbusters, here we have an R-rated studio release on which a 70-year-old director blew hundreds of millions of dollars crashing real cars into each other in Namibia. Like the Mad Max films from three decades ago, Fury Road's script is stripped down to rage and momentum. Neither Tom Hardy nor Charlize Theron speak much as they rumble across the desert, and what we know of their characters comes from observed detail: the way he's happy to abandon Theron and the young women she has saved to the warlord pursuing them, or the way she hides a gun in every cranny of the cab of her rig, and then a knife, too, in the stick of her stick shift -- Fury Road spits in the eye of automatic transmissions. His motivation, at first, is mere survival; it richens, eventually, to survival and hoping to get a barbed death-mask off his face.

Hers is more complex, so the movie has her say it out loud: "Redemption." Then it's back to the automotive combat, a two-hour parade/destruction derby of rustbuckets so viciously spiked you could sell audiences tetanus shots after the movie.
George Miller Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, Riley Keough, Nathan Jones George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Eric Blakeney George Miller, Bruce Davey, Doug Mitchell Warner Bros.

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