“But don’t let appearances fool you, they can be as fierce as any dragon.”

-Sweet Pea (Sucker Punch)

I’ll admit it. I don’t understand the love for the original Mad Max. I have tried several times to find love for Mad Max: The Road Warrior, and I have a smidgen of sentiment for Beyond Thunderdome. It makes me feel like an outsider that I can’t appreciate these films. So when all the buzz for Mad Max: Fury Road started, I smiled and rolled my eyes, but then the first trailer was released and my interest peaked. Did George Miller make a Mad Max film I could enjoy?

Fury Road begins with Max, played by Tom Hardy, being captured by scavengers. He is brought to an intricate village where a man named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) rules because he has found an underground well that supplies an otherwise dry land with water. Max’s blood is tested and revealed to be a universal donor. He is hooked up to Nux (Nicholas Hoult) to provide nutrients through his blood. While Nux is draining Max of his life force, Charlize Theron’s character Imperator Furiosa is stealing Immortan Joe’s breeders. Joe orders all his troops to track Furiosa and bring his women back. Nux, needing Max’s blood, is forced to drag his “blood bag” along. Doesn’t really need to be said, but mayhem ensues!

George Miller has constructed a mesmerizing visceral experience unlike anything that has seen the big screen. Fury Road‘s three act structure is actually a forum for three breathtaking action sets. Miller’s direction of action is impeccable, and his blending of CGI and practical stunts is unique and streamline. Unlike the previous Mad Max films, Fury Road feels like a fully formed world. There is little exposition and not much more plot, but that’s okay. Fury Road is about the thrill of the ride.

Theron and Hardy are the heart of a movie that could easily be overacted or treated as satire; they do neither. They play their roles deftly and with the sincerity needed to make Miller’s masterpiece feel like more than just another action flick. Even though the film is titled Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa is arguably the main character. Max is little more than a plot device, and again that’s okay because Hardy makes the most of his screen time. In all honesty, this film could have been called just Fury Road and had nothing to do with Mad Max, and it would have been just as great. The fact that it is a Mad Max film will only help with the box office, but as a character, Max isn’t very important.

Multiple action films have already been released this year, but none have been this visually ambitious. George Miller has spent the last 30 plus years cooking up this film. It’s hard to believe this comes from the same man who wrote and directed Happy Feet. Beautiful cinematography and just a touch of elite acting are icing on the cake. Fury Road is the type of film that you have to see to believe. Words will not do the visually stimulating film its due diligence. Do yourself a favor: put on your seat belt, hold on tight, and enjoy the wild ride!

Grade: A