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Mad Max: Fury Road

The critical hullabaloo over Mad Max: Fury Road is completely mystifying to me. I liked it, but goodness! No less a critic than A.O. Scott of the New York Times ends his review with the following: ‘“Mad Max: Fury Road,” like its namesake both humble and indomitable, isn’t about heroism in the conventional, superpowered sense. It’s about revolution.’ Revolution? Really? The main character says it’s about redemption. From what and for what, one isn’t told, and neither purpose seemed very clear to me. I think the movie is simply about having a good stunt-man (and woman!!) time with a completely ridiculous set of characters from the post-apocalypse.

Critics make much of the return of George Miller to the directorial helm of an action/adventure movie. Miller directed the earlier Mad Max trilogy (Mad Max [1980], The Road Warrior [1981], and Beyond Thunderdome [1985]), but he has been far from the frantic, noisy, blood-soaked desert of those films for the last thirty years, directing such movies as Babe: Pig in the City, the disastrous sequel to Academy Award nominated Babe, and the anemic Witches of Eastwick, described by Janet Maslin at the time of its release as full of “gimmickry” and “confusion”.

But here he is in his element. Stylish beyond description, everything from the two Cadillacs piled on top of each other to the rock ‘n roll guitarist with a plethora of speakers on the front of a truck blaring music to inspire the white-bodied, silver-mouthed Warrior Boys to furious pursuit keeps the action ramped up for the audience at every moment. Just enough tiny peeks inside the cab of this “war machine” or that dune buggy provide enough rest for the exhausted viewer not to get bored. This movie is one, long, two-hour car chase that is pure action.

So, if you like action, this in-your-face, screaming explosion of a movie is for you. But a movie that has any thought as deep as the words “revolution” or “redemption” would encourage? I don’t think so.

Drew Trotter

June 3, 2015

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