The Gist of it: This movie starts off James Bond Style, in the middle of an action sequence with very little context. Mad Max (Tom Hardy taking the reins from Mel Gibson) is captured by a mysterious road gang. He tries to escape, it’s very exciting, but he fails. We then jump to a crowd scene. The mysterious, old, disgusting, but apparently charismatic, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played Toe Cutter in the first Mad Max film) is launching his war rig to collect gas and bullets. This rig is driven by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). On her way to the gas city, she suddenly takes a hard right into the desert. We then find out that Furiosa has stolen the rig and is leading Joe’s slave-wives to safety in the desert. Joe does not take this kindly so he leads his “war boys” in a chase to retrieve “his property.” Things don’t go quite as smoothly as he has hoped. Mad Max escapes his captors and aids Furiosa with help from a reformed war boy, Nux (played by Nicholas Holt, once again showing how attractive dead-chic can be). Joined by an all-female biker gang, our heroes kill Immortan Joe and frees all of his water-dependent slaves from his cult-like clutches.
Yes, but should I see it?: If you see one movie this summer, let it be Mad Max: Fury Road. First off, it’s brilliantly written such that you don’t need to see Mad Max 1-3 to enjoy it. At the same time, this movie wastes no time with clumsy world building dialogue. You’re simply thrown into a world full of “war boys,” with “half lives” and “blood bags,” who dress as skeletons, have weird growths, and are missing limbs, and you just accept it. There is no clunky backstory offered, that would cheapen the experience.
This is also a blockbuster action flick that passes the Bechdel test. Our title character really plays a background roll in this exciting girl power adventure. You have young women, old women, white women, and women of color all fighting their own battles. Moreover, their femininity is central to their characters. These are not male-women, five of them are former wives of Immortan Joe. One of them is even pregnant. It’s just fantastically feminist.
This movie is also visually stunning, and uses very little CGI. The costuming is as fun and hair metal as you would expect from any Mad Max film, but George Miller finally had a large Hollywood budget. He gives us a parade of flame throwers, war boys suspended on sticks attacking from above, a dump truck full of Taiko drummers, and rig full of speakers and a guitarist, all in a beautifully bleak desert backdrop. This movie engages you for its entire length.