I must admit: I saw Mad Max: Fury Road months after its release and in the midst of its awards-season halo. That said, I do think the praise around this sci-fi/action/adventure/road popcorn flick is almost as insane as the movie is.
Even if the genre fit isn’t everybody’s scene, however, the film does have several strengths that shouldn’t be taken for granted:
- Sense of place & setting. I’m not familiar with the original Mad Max films, but this revamp of the franchise laid out the universe pretty cleanly. The order and discourse operating through this bizarre post-apocalypse world is rich with iconic, engaging motifs (especially everyone with their own steering wheel — loved it!).
- Visual style. The zombie horror-movie crispness & speed of imagery, paired with the vibrant oranges & blues, made this an exciting world to play witness to. This may be the most iconically stylized action movie this side of 300.
Where Fury Road fell short for me was in story and actual execution. The two strong elements above provided such a terrific infrastructure for what could be a real action masterpiece, but weren’t fully realized. Dragging the picture down were:
- Repetition. Both from a narrative and visual level, this road movie (which takes place almost entirely on the road) felt like so much of the same. Sure, certain fight scenes would include bonus elements (War Boys on sticks! Warlord guitar player!) but the non-stop action was less meaningful because it was, well, non-stop.
- Screenplay (possibly acting). Despite taking place in an interesting universe, the dialogue for this film came across so clunky. I’m not expecting Billy Wilder-level wit, but it was hard to invest into the characters when everything coming out of their mouths is so stiff and stagnant. This may have been partially due to the acting (I didn’t think Charlize Theron was all that great), though I can’t imagine anyone delivering those lines well.
I know I’m in the vast minority on this one – in fact, this morning Mad Max: Fury Road earned 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture! It is great to see these kinds of movies earning Oscar attention; I just wish it wasn’t this one.
Am I way off on this movie? What did you think of Fury Road? Reply below in the comments!