Each Mad Max installment has had a bigger and bigger budget. Well it doesn’t get much bigger than Fury Road. Every new locale is bursting with imagination from the caves of the Citadel to the pounding sun of the road to the mist of the quagmire. The costumes and vehicles are more outrageous than ever. Basically, it’s awesome! I don’t know what else to tell you! Like most other stand-out contemporary action pictures, it employs CGI effects but does not overuse them. Almost all of the stunts are practical and this makes them feel more effective because you can sense the danger.
The main knock against Beyond Thunderdome was the disjointed narrative. Miller and co-writers Brendan McCarthy and Nick Lathouris avoid that mistake here by simplifying the story and providing more developed characters. The nuts and bolts of the plot bear much resemblance to The Road Warrior, just instead of protecting a town from armored maniacs, Max finds himself helping a small group of women escape from a town full of armored maniacs. Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) is a souped-up evolution of Humungus so full of power it is making him rot.
Of course, I am burying the lead. I can hear you screaming at me for taking this long to mention Charlize Theron’s performance as Imperator Furiosa. Well, slow your roll. I love her just as much as you do. I’m just doing a thing here. I had to talk about the evolution stuff before I got to the cool new elements: the new characters. Max was always a passive character but this is the first time since Jim Goose in the first Mad Max that another character becomes the main focus of the film. An argument can be made that this is more Furiosa’s movie than Max’s. Her arc is more developed and quite compelling.
Attention should also be paid to Nicholas Hoult’s turn as Nux. His dark past and path to redemption are haunting and tragic. He is the saddest example of what happens to children born into this world after the Apocalypse. A warped extension of the Feral Kid, Nux’s disillusionment comes too late and he sacrifices himself in the hope that the others can find freedom in this living hell.
There have been rumblings that George Miller has another Mad Max planned that would include Furiosa. Theron has said she wants to return and Hardy is also up for it. As of this writing there has been no official announcement and Miller has found himself in legal battles with Warner Bros. concerning Fury Road’s financials. There can never be enough Mad Max in the world, but if this is the last film, it is a fitting ending that serves as a perfect crescendo for Miller’s vision.
So ends the first chapter in “The Franchise Chronicles.” I won’t spoil our next conquest yet. Let’s just say it’s going to be “spooky.”