By Casey Campbell
Action movies are all about motivation. The simpler the motivation, the better the action sequences. It really all comes down to caring, if even the slightest amount, about what’s happening on screen. It’s why Mad Max: Fury Road is such a successful movie. It takes a simple idea and kicks you in the teeth with it. It amplifies a simple chase sequence into the entire runtime and yet it’s never monotonous, it’s never ugly, and it’s never confusing. Even better, there are characters with ample motivation to root for, and villains with motivation to hate. Simply put, Mad Max: Fury Road does almost everything right by doing the bare minimum that an action movie needs to.
This is one of my favorite action movies and despite that, I’ve never seen the previous three films. Now that that’s out of the way, I feel like I’m able to offer my thoughts on the movie on it’s own. It’s fucking rad. It has a guy with a flame-throwing guitar dangling from a amplified display attached to the back of a supercharged post-apocalyptic big-rig truck. It’s excessive as fuck, and yet it’s unceasingly entertaining and impressive to behold. No matter how crazy the stuff on screen may appear, with a few clear deadly exceptions, what you’re seeing is real. The cars alone are a sight to behold, with their singular designs which add to both the characters and the world this movie inhabits. The things they’re able to do with the cars on camera, on the other hand, is something else entirely.
This movie is basically a stunt-reel that ran feature length. The shit these cars do, both practically and otherwise, is utterly insane. It’s also rated R, which is a delight, because many action movies fall short for having to cut footage to appease the notoriously conservative MPAA. But not this one. Off the top of my head I can recall someone getting their jaw torn asunder, people getting shot and stabbed with bloody results, and some extremely rough crashes. The movie is violent as all hell, but moves at a pace that doesn’t linger on any of the more gruesome moments. It’s all more a matter of fact that this world is as frenzied and kinetic as it is.
Mad Max: Fury Road won a slew of Oscars after it came out, including editing which is pretty cool. The Oscars, as a rule, don’t matter (especially when they dole out awards to by-the-numbers shit heaps like Bohemian Rhapsody, woof) but for the Academy to actually interpret the editing in Mad Max to be award worthy is impressive. The editing is one of the best parts of the movie, for how it cleanly and succinctly portrays the madness in the world, and messes about with frame rate. A bunch of the early action sequences feel like they’re played at a higher frame rate, making everything seem so quick and crazy. But, even so, it’s a delicate line to toe in making a coherent yet swift film. And they nailed it. Or rather, editor Margaret Sixel nailed it. (Apparently, she had around 470 hours of film to cut down to feature length, and watching it took three months.)
Fury Road released to universal acclaim, and an okay box office run for it’s budget. I’ve been pining for a sequel ever since, and hopefully the announced Furiosa movie can find it’s footing sooner than later.