Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road is post-apocalyptic poetry and superior to the original Road Warrior series of the early 80s, which was terrific. Miller's dystopian vision of a road-raging, fuel-starved future is familiar to many but the new film ratchets up the intensity to nearly unbearable levels. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron star as captives of the despotic, and despicable, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), ruler of a kingdom of fall-out survivors and a band of chalky, shaved warrior boys who guard his rocky fortress, from whence he dispenses wisdom and water, but not in equal measures. When Theron's Imperator Furiosa makes a break for it in an 18-wheeler that is carrying some of Joe's precious breeding cargo, Joe and his boys take off in pursuit with Hardy's Max in tow as "blood bag" to one of Joe's anemic underlings (Nicholas Hoult). The opening 20-minute chase is grindhouse opera -- symphonic, grungy and grand, a sensory assault that is unrelenting and exhausting. The whole film is. The dusty, world's end vistas (shot in Australia and Namibia), the punk / metal / S&M costuming and makeup, and the Cirque du Soleil grotesque acrobatics in the final chase are all exquisite. Miller's dark message has not changed since the original Mad Max was released in 1979 -- man's feral nature will undoubtedly survive whatever devastation his greed and shortsightedness bring --but Miller has exceeded -- to marvelous effect -- the delivery of that message. Highly recommended but terrifically violent.