Before the words “Mad Max: Fury Road” appear on screen, you’ll have probably figured out what you’re going to think of the movie. It begins with our hero Max (played by classic mumbler Tom Hardy) being captured and then attempting to escape, but as he does so, he gets strange visions of a mysterious girl. Either you think that that was a great way to convey Max’s insanity, or you’ll think it’s an unnesesary in-your-face explosion of editing. I thought the latter.
And the film only gets more insane from there! As it continues to set itself up, my jaw was consistently dropped by some of the crazy (not to mention random and unexplained) sights you see. Weird fat naked ladies having milk pumped from them (no, I’m not making this up), blood being transferred from Max to another character constantly for some reason, a random guitar player exists for no reason and we get even more of that editing I was talking about earlier!
But as the movie starts to settle into itself, it honestly becomes a bit dull. Yes, there’s a crap ton of action throughout and a good chunk of it was done for real, but whilst the film does quite a bit of visual world-building, it forgets to develop interesting characters. As Max tries to escape from this army, he runs into a group of women also trying to evade the enemy. One of the women falls out of the truck they’re driving in and while it’s made out to be a pretty big deal, I couldn’t care less because no personality was given to her before her demise, and most of the other characters have little about them to make us care for them.
The first act of this movie is insane, as we see all sorts of bonkers sights that come off as just crazy with little to no context. Act 2 is calmer but becomes more character driven, though saying it’s even that is a bit of a stretch. The third is actually decent even if it does drag in parts. The whole thing is quite well made, with some good shots with a striking colour scheme, and I appreciate the practicality of the action.
Mad Max: Fury Road can’t decide what it wants to be. It starts as a crazy visual world-building experience, then turns into a slightly character driven road chase (think a big budget Smokey and the Bandit, minus the likeable cast) before becoming a full on film-making spectacle by the end, similar to something like Dunkirk. But where that film succeeded because it was fully about the scope and intensity, Fury Road tries to juggle several styles into one. For many, it really worked (it even got a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars that year) and is now considered one of the best action films of all time, but for me, it wasn’t that lovely a day.