Mad Max: Fury Road posterGeorge Miller directs relatively infrequently, and his films range widely, from the mid-apocalyptic Australia of Mad Max to the singing (and dancing) penguins of Happy Feet. After rising to Hollywood prominence with the car-warfare classic The Road Warrior, Miller made one more Max movie then seemed to slowly let genre material go. Thirty years later, after a lengthy preproduction, he returns to the series that made his name with Mad Max: Fury Road. To get the obligatory car pun out of the way, Fury Road proves that Miller has ample gas left in the tank. His new film raises the bar for creative car-chase mayhem to ridiculous heights, and is a triumph of action directing.

Max (Tom Hardy, replacing Mel Gibson in his star-making role) is in immediate trouble as the film opens, captured by the “war boys” of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, villain here and in the original Mad Max, one of many callbacks). Relegated to serving as a source of ready blood transfusions, Max is taken along when the war boys are sent in pursuit of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Furiosa, one of Joe’s top commanders, has betrayed him, fleeing his fortress in a “war rig”, a cobbled-together tanker trunk of massive and deadly proportions. In an impressive sequence set inside a raging desert dust storm, Max manages to break loose from his war boy captor, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), and ends up reluctantly joining Furiosa’s mission.

Mad Max: Fury Road chase sceneYou can probably tell by the names alone that this is a Mad Max movie, but Miller is not content to rest with his customary odd blend of characters. While the screen story by Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nick Lathouris is far from novel, drawing heavily from previous installments, this director’s true strength has always been visual storytelling, and Fury Road demonstrates this in spades. I have described The Road Warrior more than once as an hour of setup for a half-hour of car chase, and, if this is true, Fury Road is fifteen minutes of setup for one-hundred forty-five minutes of car chase. One might think that this level of nonstop action could get boring, but Miller’s visual inventiveness seemingly knows no bounds as he tops himself again and again with imaginative stunts, and just enough character moments to keep us caring about the outcome.

The net result is an embarrassment of action riches, enough to easily put most of the film’s contemporaries to shame, and an oddly fitting increase in scope and outlandishness for a series that seemed to have reached peaks in both. Simply put, Fury Road is a contender for best action movie of the summer, and probably the year and decade, too. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.

Mad Max:Fury Road on IMDB

UGeek Rating: 9/10