"Mad Max Fury Road" is one long hyperkinetic, violent, chase scene. It has received over-the-top reviews; that's why I went to see it. The reviews insisted that "Fury Road" is so good it transcends its genre: teen boy action movie / video game. I was hoping for something like "300," a violent action movie that is better than it needs to be. In fact "Fury Road's" star, Tom Hardy, costarred with "300"'s star, Gerard Butler. But "Fury Road" really isn't any better than any other violent, teen boy, action movie / video game. It's not exceptionally smart or funny or cinematically awe-inspiring.
There's no challenging thought or interesting history. It's just the same old same old: manmade apocalypse, humans in a devastated landscape, evil men doing despicable things, with lots and lots of chasing, punching, kicking, ugliness and loudness. After I walked out of this movie, the world was an uglier place. As I passed cars, I saw the souped-up cars of "Fury Road." Everything seemed menacing and everyone seemed to need a punch in the face. I don't think it's a good thing that movies peddle nihilism as a drug to teen boys.
"Fury Road" takes place in the future. The landscape is desert. An evil and very ugly ruler, Joe, who wears a skull mask and a Darth-Vader-style breathing apparatus, hoards water. Joe uses the water to support his population of war boys, bare-chested, muscular men in white body paint. Joe also harvests breast milk from captive women, and impregnates other captive women, "breeders," with his offspring – future war boys.
Some of his subjects make a break for it. Joe sends out his war boys to catch the escapees. The escapees are trying to make it to the green land of many mothers.
The entire movie, from start to finish, is one long chase scene. It's so fast moving and stimulating that it actually gets boring. You don't know or care about any of the characters. None of the characters are particularly likable. It's so horrible – the quick scene of women's breast milk being harvested, for example – that it becomes laughable. It's very loud and your ears ring after you leave the theater.
Tom Hardy as Mad Max spends the first twenty minutes or so of the movie being bound and tortured. Pretty passive for the star of an action movie. Charlize Theron carries the action, and she is very good. Not bad for a 39 year old woman. Nicholas Hoult is poignant as a war boy who undergoes the closest thing the movie has to character development. My favorite scene in the movie lasted about thirty seconds; Tom Hardy says, "My name is Max." It's a tiny oasis in a desert of violent chase scenes.
Men are bad and destroy and exploit; women are good and nurture. I suspect that this aspect of the film will arouse controversy.
The future is full of white people. In the large cast, only Zoe Kravitz, who is half Jewish and half black, is a bit darker skinned. This aspect of the movie will also arouse protest. The future may be a dystopic no-exit hellhole, but black people should be allowed to suffer in it as much as whites.
The war boys are eager to die for their malicious leader, Joe. Joe promises them that when they die they will go to Valhalla. I wondered if this might not be an allusion to suicide bombers dying with promises of 72 virgins on their minds.