DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
When I grow up, I want to be George Miller.
I can only hope that when I'm seventy, I will be as passionate about what I'm doing as he is. Because that's what this is, a rambunctious, frenetic piece of unbridled passion for sharing an insane vision and, more importantly, a passion for filmmaking.
Mad Max: Fury Road is the elixir of youth for modern action driven blockbusters.
From the very first shot you're in the hands of a man who knows every inch of the word you're about to enter. When rewatching the previous films (ok, I skipped the third one because reasons) I was swept away by that camp insanity Miller managed to put into his films. This film has that and then some. It is almost an extrapolation of the bizareness of the previous films, one that actually marked the passage of time in Max's life brilliantly. When we left him, the world was on the brink of keeling over the edge. Now, it's gone over and there is no returning. And boy did it go bonkers.
And that's just it. Miller doesn't pull any punches. Some of the stuff you get to see is so far out there that you can only wonder about how and respect the fact that he got away with it. It has to do with the total dedication every second of this film emanates. The make up, the costumes, the cars, the attention to detail and the twisted creativity in the aesthetics are absolutely awe inspiring.
Miller's approach film making is one I cherish. He relies on the the limits of the real world for his creations and not the limitless possibilities provided by digital options. I am convinced this forces a different kind of creativity out of someone. There are perhaps a handful of scenes that could only have been created with the aid of a computer, but the majority of the action sequences rely on intricate choreography and some very brave stuntmen.
What this achieves is a direct involvement of the audience. Pain becomes palpable, danger becomes more intense and tension comes from the realness on screen. The entire thing just jumps out at you, becoming tangible and impossible to turn away from.
Plotwise Miller has achieved something extraordinary. He has made watching a group of people travel from A to B in two hours an amazing experience. It is the simplicity of the writing, the depth of the construction of the movie's universe and the brilliant pacing that make Fury Road so easy to get lost in.
And of course, there are the characters. Now, the hype around this film is impossible to ignore and neither is the feminist label it has been given. As for the latter, well, fuck that. I am sorry but it is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in quite a while. You know what this is? This is a film that treats ALL its main characters with the greatest respect, regardless of gender or whatnot. There is nothing remarkable about the fact that there are many female characters in this film. What is remarkable is that someone has finally managed to write a bunch of characters that are what they are without being overbearingly dependent on others, characters that are crystal clear brushstrokes of human beings that have seen a lot without it getting shoved in our faces constantly. This is not feminism or whatever you want to call it, it's bloody good writing, that's what it is.
I have also read that Max plays second fiddle in this film. Apart from the fact that I don't really think this is true (he is catalyst in many situations, the difference is that he is not the only catalyst), it is an odd complaint as remaining (or trying to) in the background is part and parcel of his personality. He is basically written, in parts 2 and 3 that is, as a direct object in the plot being forced to become a subject. Here, this is no different. A lot happens TO Max, it takes him a good while to act out of something else than his basic survival instinct. It is also quite remarkable that Miller manages to get a Mad Max out of a different actor, with a gap of 30 years, that not only feels the same, but comes across as a logical continuation of the previous film.
The cast is excellent. Theron gives a physical performance paired with a long, hard history behind her eyes betraying a compelling tragedy. Furiosa is a fantastic character, one Theron does more than justice. Hoult has perhaps the most layered role and he pulls off both aspects of his character very well. And then there's Hardy. Dodgy accent aside, his performance is spot on. That he can be a physically dominant presence is something I already knew and the physicality he brings to this film matches the tone and frenetic nature of the film brilliantly. He gets the character, of that I am sure. Getting Hugh Keays-Byrne back as the villain is a treat. And what a villain it is. The eyes convey everything about him, a desperate evil with a lust for power. Truly fantastic.
Fury Road is a war film with a siege as its centerpiece. It is basically three armies trying to capture the (wonderfully phallic) castle. There are siege engines, lancers, catapults and even a glorious marching band providing morale for the troops (I am building that guitar as we speak). And the sieges are diverse, intense and fantastic, all smothered in Junkie XL's score that is to die for.
Mad Max: Fury Road is rejuvinating, passionate and inspiring. Miller has well and truly taken the majority of Hollywood to school with this. I hope this lesson will resonate for a long time.