Mad Max: Fury Road

★★★½
We don’t need another hero — unless he’s Tom Hardy.
Movie Review #970

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As I write this review, I am listening to “Hells Bells” by AC/DC. It was first track off the Australian rock band’s Back in Black, their first (and perhaps best) release following the death of lead singer Bon Scott. The howling vocal sound is definitely different from when the band started with High Voltage and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, but it awesomely corrupts the music.

Tom Hardy does the same for “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Forget that Mel Gibson didn’t want to return for a fourth film, and forget any suggestion that he’s too old for the role by now. Hardy really delivers here. Perhaps I’d have a greater say if I’d seen the first three “Mad Max” films (which, I now realize, is a gigantic mistake), but if Hardy continues to give the same rock n’ roll performance that he does in “Fury Road”, I don’t even want Mel Gibson back in the game.

Better yet is Charlize Theron, the badass who calls herself Furiosa, as if a name like Charlize Theron isn’t wicked enough. She’s fiercer than Max, if it says anything about her as a strong female lead. Remember Sigourney Weaver in the first two Alien movies? That’s pretty much where the bar’s set with Theron.

George Miller has spent years paving the way (no pun intended) for “Mad Max: Fury Road”. The idea first came to him in 1998 and spent several years in development hell. 17 years later, we have the finished product: a chase sequence that lasts exactly two hours and keeps our attention on a dog leash the entire time. To be fair, the plot is rather thin, but at the end of the day, we couldn’t care less.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” starts off as an absorbingly hallucinogenic experience, and then roars into something of a terrifically deranged epic. It’s the beautifully feral image that comes to mind when you envision Terry Gilliam helming an action movie. To cite another great action movie from just last month, it’s “Furious 7” with twenty times the innovation. “Fury Road” features ingenious guerrilla choreography in its action sequences. Every move made in these scenes feels utterly new and bereft of formula. Director George Miller, additionally, has created an illusion with the pacing of the action in the editing process: while the film was shot at 24 frames per second, he’ll often slow the speed to 20 fps or speed it up to 28 fps. It’s subtle, but it effectively changes our perception and our comprehension of the action.

The movie demands that you go big or go home. See it in 3-D, and see it in IMAX, Cinemark X D, or Regal RPX. It’ll cost more than any other movie ticket, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

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