Fury Road beats all the odds to be, not just a surprising rebirth of a dead franchise, but also one of the most gripping action films of all time. The film is essentially structured as a single long chase scene; there are slower moments, but our characters, both heroes, villains and anti-heroes, start running pretty early on and they never really stop. Miller knows how to direct action in a way that no one else really does; it’s visceral, intense, imaginative and, pardon the pun, high-octane. He knows how to make a scuffle in the desert feel smart and nail-biting, as in a wonderful fight between Max and Furiosa at their first meeting, a sort of fight scene by way of Rube Goldberg. Or he can throw a dozen cars into the mix and have people doing acrobatics, leaping from car to car, fist-fighting, firing weapons and, no joke, fighting over a flame-throwing guitar. These action sequences feel raw and loose and crazily unhinged, as if they might fly off the rails at any moment; but fear not – they’re functioning like a well-oiled machine. The cast is really quite wonderful as well. The film is brave enough to make Charlize Theron’s Furiosa the main character, though Hardy’s Max is, of course, a big character as well. Theron is an actress that I typically don’t care for, but she doesn’t just give the best performance of her career here; she also creates an amazingly compelling female action hero, one that I think will be standing alongside Ellen Ripley in the decades to come. Her performance is raw and brilliant, stoic in all the right ways, aching with emotion at all the right moments. Hardy is also pitch perfect, minimal and stoic, but saying everything with his eyes. And with something like breathtaking economy, the film manages to give these two characters moving emotional arcs over the film, even as it rarely flags to let them even catch their breath. Nicholas Hoult is equally good and surprisingly compelling as a villain that finds himself struggling with his true place in the world; he’s gloriously operatic at some moments, quietly devastating at others. It really is just a perfect movie. Everything comes together perfectly. Sequel? Oh, yes. Well, actually, I’m hearing prequel; that’ll work too. 4 stars.
tl;dr – breathtaking action, unflagging energy, wonderful performances, economical screenplay and fully realized characters; Fury Road proves that action movies really can have it all. 4 stars.