Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

“Oh, what a day… what a lovely day!”

Justin’s rating: A full tank of gas and half a pack of bullets

Justin’s review: When you get to the third sequel of a post-apocalyptic franchise that stalled out in the mid-1980s, expectations are going to be kind of low. If we get mindless explosions and some forgettable plot, it’ll be enough to fill a couple of hours and then be retired to bargain bin afterward. Max Max: Fury Road wasn’t even close to being on my radar because I just assumed it was going to be trash. But I got dragged to a theater to see it back in 2015 with a friend, and found myself nearly blown away by the jaw-dropping spectacle that unfolded.

Yes, it’s really that good.

George Miller, who directed Mad Max 2 back in 1981, returned for whatever insane reason to craft one of the best-looking action films I’ve ever seen. Instead of relying on pure CGI (as so many modern filmmakers do), Miller decided that he’d make what is essentially a two-hour rolling battle with as many practical effects and stunts as possible. The result is a movie that continually one-ups itself with ludicrous sights that you’ve never witnessed before. It is glorious.

And it is odd, too. The way this story and setting unfold are so different than your standard Holllywood template that it feels refreshing and bold. That even plays out in its leads. You’d think that, for a movie titled Max Max: Fury Road, that this would be a film about Max. But he’s not actually the main character.

Rather, this is about a one-armed and very determined lady named Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who defects from her post-apocalyptic army to rescue a small band of “wives” from the army’s general. Furiosa commandeers a water truck and becomes the target of a massive manhunt.

Part of that manhunt is a captive Max (Tom Hardy, who takes over from Mel Gibson), who spends an uncomfortable stretch of time chained to a car and used for blood transfusion for a sick gang member. Max eventually stunts his way free and reluctantly joins Furiosa’s hopeless cause. There are lots of grunts and short retorts back and forth, but if we’re being honest, this isn’t a movie that’s about heart-to-heart dialogue.

No, this is a movie that’s about the most epic car battle ever filmed, and we are beyond fortunate that we may see its glory. It’s practically a nonstop set-piece that involves catapults, grappling hooks, spears, guns, guitars shooting fire, and anything else that happened to pop into George Miller’s mind while he was perusing heavy metal album covers.

If you’re sick of depressing and tense post-apocalyptic settings in films — and the good Lord knows we’ve had so many of them as of late — then shift gears and check out this high octane romp through the desert. It’s sheer bloody fun, and even five years later, I’m still in awe of what it pulled off.

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