It's been thirty years since Mad Max last hit the road. Sequels that long after the fact tend to be half-baked nostalgia that never quite gels. Yet this two hour cacophony of crashing metal is sitting atop a 98% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes with accolades firing in from every direction. So what you're wondering is simple: could that possibly be real?
It is. This movie shows meticulous care when it matters, rendering car chases and destruction into an exquisite heavy metal ballet that soars repeatedly. The through line doesn't always make sense, but who cares? Just give the devil, in this case director George Miller, his due.
Mad Max has always worked best as myth forming before our eyes, stories that may or may not be true, but will be handed down by Miller's Post-Apocalyptic survivors forever. "The Road Warrior" is the best of the lot because it captures that vibe completely. It's simple, blunt and moves forward relentlessly. "Fury Road" isn't quite that clean, but it's an improvement over the somewhat muddled dynamics of "Beyond Thunderdome." And I can guarantee you that metal on metal carnage has never been so vibrantly, and yes lovingly, framed on the screen.
Act One: Max eats a lizard raw. Then he's set upon by a raiders who hail from a stunning citadel of towers and gears that couldn't possibly be built in this world, but again, who cares? This is mythmaking. The raiders want Max and his circulating Type O as nothing more than a blood bag. He's hung upside down and hooked into Nux, a charmingly naive warrior for the hideous Immortan Joe. Joe promises to deliver his followers to Valhalla. They will ride glistening like chrome forever.
Act Two: One of Immortan Joe's most trusted lieutenant's, Imperator Furiosa, drives the mighty big rig War Machine out at the head of a gas convoy. A few miles out, however, Furiosa alters the plan. She's got a back story as the kidnapped child of a murdered mother; Immorten Joe has five prisoner brides whose children to come are his property. For a woman seeking redemption, that's the ticket. Furiosa has smuggled those five brides out in War Machine and makes a break for it to the east.
Act Three: Immortan Joe moves his fleet out in pursuit. In the vanguard, Max is mounted on the front of Nux's car. Furiosa leads them all into an absolutely awesome dust storm, more of a dust hurricane, really. The aftermath throws Furiosa and Max together on War Machine while dragging along Nux for the ride. The two experience warriors will find that once you begrudgingly start down the road of redemption, you can't quit. Young Nux will find out that he's an individual after all. Maybe even one with a conscience.
Everything else is War Machine on the run subjected to an endless stream of spectacular attacks. The fluidity of it all feels as much a naval battle, maybe one of those beleaguered Malta convoys the British sacrificed in World War II, as it does a car chase. I won't even attempt a blow-by-blow because I couldn't do it justice. I'll just say Miller remains a master of the craft from beginning to end. It's definitely worth your time.
Poetry in motion.
Very loud poetry.