4 stars
There's a moment toward the end of George Miller's blistering dystopian adventure that it suddenly makes sense. Plagued by the concern that this thrilling B-movie might not actually be about anything at all, you realise that it doesn't matter. The lack of discernible story and purpose is not the point. This is all about the gear crunching, mind-bending, ear-shattering ride, man. It's about blowing shit up.
Normally that makes me nervous – consider Avengers: Age of Ultron. The difference here is that septuagenarian director George Miller reveals he has more flair, more vision, more creative chutzpah in his little finger than the band of Marvel magicians put together. For by eschewing digital chaos – ninety percent of this film, from shredding metal to exploding cars, happened – he overcomes the disheartening weightlessness that robs most effects films of their integrity. This is old-school film making, and is a thousand percent more engrossing for it.

Essentially one, long, nausea inducing car chase, Mad Max: Fury Road is another instalment in the iconic fable that launched Miller, Mel Gibson and the Australian outback into the stratosphere. Dumping back story (any kind of story, really), this is parred down movie making that relies on the moment to convey the message. There's a bit of flashback in trippy visions that convey the poor choices which have created Max's world and his motivation. Otherwise, it's fast-forward motion as warrior-woman Imperator Furiosa (a gritty Charlize Theron in what is the film's central role) 'steals' the wives of incensed overlord Immortan Joe (played with mad eyed intensity by former Toecutter, Hugh Keasy-Byrne). He gives chase with a flotilla of supercharged vehicles, an army of manic war boys and Max in an iron mask, strapped to the lead vehicle.

It is Miller's engorged imagination that keeps Fury Road rocketing forward. There's not a moment, not a scene nor a frame that isn't dripping with artistic bravura. From the scintillating Namibian desert to the lovingly detailed costumes to the wildly conceived vehicles to the sheer audacity of the entire concept, it is electrifying to watch. The veteran commands the screen like those who came after him never did, and never will.

Yet despite this gripping cinematic distillation – and it is gripping, you haven't seen action this exhilaratingly physical since, well, Mad Max – there is still something ephemeral about the experience. In throwing story to the margins, Fury Road distils as three stunning action sequences clipped together by half a dozen minutes of calm in which the cast, crew and audience catch their breath. While tossing scriptwriting basics to the desert floor is liberating once, come the third go round it begins to loose it's magic. In this narrative vacuum you rightly wonder what it's all about, but Miller doesn't offer an answer. He'd argue that he doesn't have to, and perhaps he's right. For Fury Road isn't about the journey or the destination, it's about the struggle.

And on Fury Road, that's all there can be.


Previewed at Event Cinemas, George St, Sydney, on 13 May 2015


Tom Hardy
Charleze Theron
Nicholas Hoult
Hugh Keays-Byrne

George Miller

George Miller
Brendan McCarthy



120 minutes

May 14, 2015
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) on IMDb