For fans who know Humungus, Thunderdome, and the Feral Kid, George Miller’s Mad Max reboot is one of the most anticipated reboots or sequels of the last decade. Here is a visionary filmmaker who’s been handed a giant studio budget to fully realize the original characters and post-apocalyptic landscape that set the tone for a type of splendidly raw action film in the early 1980s. A dynamite new cast—including Charlize Theron, with Tom Hardy stepping into the role originated by Mel Gibson—raised fan expectations, and an explosive first trailer indicated that Miller, at 70, was still a maestro of mayhem.

In Fury Road, Max initially finds himself in dire circumstances, imprisoned by the brainwashed minions of the Immortan Joe, a grotesque and cruel dictator, and kept alive only for his blood. But when Imperator Furiosa (Theron) rebels and tries to escape with Immortam’s harem, an epic chase across the scorched wasteland takes place that forces Max to do more than just find a way to survive. “And for 120 minutes, that climax doesn’t let up,” writes, Chris Nashawaty, in his B-grade review. “Souped-up motorcycles soar over Nitro-fueled muscle cars, Nitro-fueled muscle cars crash into tricked-out oil trucks, and all of them explode into glorious fireballs. Fury Road not only captures the same Molotov-cocktail craziness of Miller’s masterpiece, 1981’s The Road Warrior—it’s also a surprisingly hypercaffeinated film for a director in his fifth decade behind the camera.”

To read more of Nashawaty’s review and a sampling of other critics from across the country, click below:

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)

“When you get past Miller’s orgy of loco action sequences—and they’re so good, you may not need to—the story is pretty thin. … What made the first Mad Max such a future-shock classic wasn’t just its jittery, overcranked action served up with a sick smile, but also its metaphorical depth. The new film is, I’m sorry to say, just another summer action film (albeit a gorgeously shot one). In the end, Mad Max’s road may be furious, but it doesn’t really lead anywhere.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe) ▲

Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t a reboot, it’s a power-up—an outrageously kinetic, visually inventive, dramatically satisfying demolition derby that pits the matriarchy against the patriarchy while standing as the action film to beat for the rest of the summer, possibly the decade. It may be the best thing Miller has ever done.”

Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald)

Fury Road makes Avengers: Age of Ultron look like an adorable child’s toy (nice try, Joss Whedon!) and reveals Furious 7 to be the cheap, hollow cartoon it always was. The movie has the same jaw-dropping impact as The Road Warrior did in 1982, except this one goes much further, because the radical advances in filmmaking (along with that $150 million budget) allow Miller to do things he could only dream about before.”

“Yet all this wit and effort and occasional beauty is in the service of a movie that is little more than a two-hour chase scene, one that seems founded on the assumption that if you show one set of people chasing another, that’s enough to get an audience excited: Oh, no, let’s hope they don’t get caught!”

Justin Chang (Variety)

“If it sounds interminable—and for viewers not on the film’s specific wavelength, even a minute of this stuff will be hard to take—rest assured that Miller proves himself a maestro not only when he’s slamming huge metal objects together, but also when attending to such subtler matters as pacing and modulation (with the invaluable assistance of his editor and wife, Margaret Sixel).”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)

Mad Max: Fury Road is a stunningly effective post-apocalyptic fable, a chilling and yet exhilarating daytime nightmare pitting blindly loyal and bloodthirsty half-humans against implausibly beautiful people clinging to their sense of morality while doing whatever they can to stay alive.”

Michael O’Sullivan (Washington Post)

“Don’t get too wrapped up in deeper meaning. Fury Road is less about estrogen than adrenaline. Gorgeously art-directed, from the film’s souped-up unfunny cars to the tribal costumes and make-up to the bleakly breathtaking cinematography of the Namibian desert, it’s a case of style triumphantly squashing substance.”

Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times)

Mad Max: Fury Road will leave you speechless, which couldn’t be more appropriate. Words are not really the point when it comes to dealing with this barn-burner of a post-apocalyptic extravaganza in which sizzling, unsettling images are the order of the day.”

Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter)

“Tom Hardy [is] so ideal a replacement for Mel Gibson that one wouldn’t want to imagine anyone else having taken over the role. … When the time comes to hit the road, Max, his face confined behind a trident-like mask, is strapped like a grille ornament on the front of a marauding car … Slowly the man behind the victim emerges—first to exciting, then to ultimately touching effect in the final scene. It’s as if Hardy was cast for his brawn, but ultimately used for his soul.”

A.O. Scott (New York Times)

“When Fury Road reaches for emotional grandeur it relies on the faces of its cast—Ms. Theron could be a silent-movie heroine, despite the noise that surrounds her—and on Junkie XL’s superb, full-throated score. When it wants to crack jokes, the movie reaches for quick, profane sight gags or elaborate feats of Newtonian improbability.”

David Edelstein (New York)

“It’s an extraordinary performance by Theron, who barely emotes but whose hardness is broken by glints of guilt and grief. It’s a mighty moment when, given terrible news, she staggers towards a titanic sand dune—it rises from nowhere, but nothing less would be worthy of her—and sinks to her knees in despair. At time like that, you might wish the film had been called Mad Maxine and had followed her from the start.”

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 89

Rotten Tomatoes: 98 percent

Rated: R

Length: 120 minutes

Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Directed by George Miller

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Mad Max: Fury Road
2015 movie
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