BY RYAN MILOWICKI
Have you ever gone into a theater with practically zero expectations, and left with an irrepressible feeling of joy that can only stem from the most pleasant of surprises? Last week, I was fortunate enough to experience that at an advance screening of Mad Max: Fury Road. My skepticism at the “let’s reboot franchises 20+ years later” mentality of modern blockbusters is well documented, so I understandably wasn’t sold on the concept of bringing Max Rockatansky back to the big screen after a 30-year hiatus. But let me tell you this: I’ll be hard-pressed to think of a movie in the past decade which delivered more action per minute, more breathtaking practical effects, or a more gleeful sense of self-awareness and uniqueness. How else can I say it? Mad Max: Fury Road is the best popcorn movie I’ve seen since my childhood wonder faded into the critical eye of growing up.
One reason Fury Road works so well is that the mythology of the original mythology is not a necessity to enjoy this offering. As Max (Tom Hardy replacing Mel Gibson) narrates in the first minute, he is a former cop in the desolate wasteland of post-apocalyptic Australia who has lost his family. His only motivation left on this barren continent is the will to survive at any cost. Finding himself reduced to a prisoner in the clutches of the iron-fisted leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played Mad Max‘s original villain), Max is a “blood bag,” a living, breathing IV who keeps the nearly-skeletonized army out of the clutches of death. His story intertwines with that of rogue lieutenant Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who embarks on a treacherous journey to smuggle the leader’s five wives (and apparently the only fertile women left) to safety.
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