So, before I start the actual review, I have to rant a bit. I am an AMC Theater regular. I cross state lines to see a movie at the closest AMC. The actual nearest cinema used to be a United Artists theatre, renovated about 10 years ago to include stadium seating in its relatively small auditoriums. The last movie I saw there (which was the first in a long time) was Lemony Snicket... More recently, it was acquired by Regal and re-renovated to include assigned seating in exceptionally plush recliners! Because J was at my house, and neither of two closest AMCs were showing Mad Max: Fury Road in 2D, we ended up in the Regal and J couldn't help but give in to the plush, falling asleep twice. But... I blame the seat, not the movie.
Original creator/writer/director George Miller (Gremlins; Babe) is back with the latest in the continuing adventures of a character he created nearly 40 years ago. Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) takes over for Mel Gibson in the title role, joined by Academy Award winner Charlize Theron and X-Men's Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) in what is basically a 2 hour car chase through the Australian (South African) desert. Captured by the sadistic Immortan Joe, AKA 'Daddy' (Hugh Keays-Byrne - of the original film), Max is branded and tattooed an 'O+ Universal Donor' and soon finds himself caged as a living "blood bag" for a cancer-ridden 'War Boy' named Nux (Hoult). When Daddy's best war-machine driver Imperator Furiosa (Theron) goes rogue, Nux sets out in pursuit to win Daddy's favor, strapping Max to the front of his car. Furiosa is also soon in pursuit by The People Eater and The Bullet Farmer, impeding the deal she'd made to ensure safe passage for her cargo, Daddy's concubines (one of whom is very pregnant). As with Miller's previous films in the series, Max's will to survive is paramount, though his compassion and his need to do the right thing overrides his personal well being and he ends up helping Furiosa to defeat to tyrant (Not-Such-A-Spolier-Alert).
Of course, the story (as in all the Mad Max films) is really secondary to the action and stunts, and Fury Road delivers plenty of that! J and I particularly liked the guys on the poles who were able to reach in and snatch people out their vehicles. The performances are fine all around, though Hardy's Max sounds an awful lot like his Bane, particularly near the end. Theron continues to build her repertoire of tough bitches and Hoult is obviously having fun as the lost soul redeemed by love. The effects are superlative (I believed Theron was an amputee) and the visuals quite often amazing. Sadly, while Fury Road is most certainly a Mad Max movie worthy of the franchise, it can't compare to the franchise's decidedly best entry, The Road Warrior. Still, it was great, loud, mindless fun and the chance to hold hands in the dark with a certain special someone (even if those evil seats made him fall asleep twice)!
Fans of the franchise won't be disappointed, though after all these years, I had hoped Miller might have something new to say about the character. *** (Three Out of Four Stars). Mad Max: Fury Road is rated "R" by the MPAA for "intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images."