If I had to choose any two words to describe Mad Max: Fury Road, those two words would most definitely be "beautiful chaos". I first heard this description from Kristian Harloff (of the popular YouTube channel Schmoes Know) before actually seeing the movie, and now after having watched it, I can't think of a better and more accurate description of this movie.
I'll be honest, I never really sat down and watched the first three Mad Max films. I've seen numerous clips and have come across it on tv while channel surfing, but nothing more. Having said that, I still thoroughly enjoy this new rendition. I didn't feel that I missed anything referring to prior films or was lacking any prior knowledge, so don't feel like you have to play catch up before watching it. This movie felt completely fresh. It was never confirmed whether this was a reboot or sequel, and at the end of the day it really doesn't matter. It stands independently as its own film and doesn't rely on pre-existing background narrative to give the plot legitimacy or foundation.
Inheriting the "lead" role of the titular Max is none other than Bane himself, Tom Hardy. Hardy brings a quiet intensity to the character which is consistent throughout the film. Though he doesn't have a huge amount of dialogue, it is easy to see that this is a man who is very world-weary, cynical, and battling personal demons. You see this inner turmoil not just in the mental flashes and hallucinations that he has but by the way that he reacts to certain events that occur. There is a line where he says that he has been reduced to a single primal instinct, survival, and you see the animal come out of him in the action scenes. You see the rage and sense that he will not back down or surrender to anyone. Hardy knocks his role out of the park, even though he's not really asked to do much in terms of dialogue.
Though Max is technically the main character, it is logical to argue that Charlize Theron's Furiosa is actually the lead in this movie. Theron dives in to this empowering role to the point where you forget that she's really a gorgeous movie star and totally buy her as a hardened, one-armed badass. She gets to flex her acting chops in a few of the slower scenes focused on character development. All in all, even though the cast is not asked to give Oscar winning performances, they all turn in solid performances.
Now to the action... Wow... Just, wow... For those who don't know, this is indeed the same George Miller who directed the first three Mad Max movies who has now come back to direct this one. He is well known for making great use of practical effects to add gritty realism to the action set pieces, and he does the same here. There are a few scenes in particular that have some obvious CGI (looking at you sandstorm), but obviously they can;t film in a real sandstorm. Other than that you can't really tell where else it was used, and that's effective direction by Miller. The chase scenes throughout the movie are absolutely astonishing. There is so much going on, but it's all done so gracefully that it never gets to the point that the Transformer films always seem to go where you have no idea what is happening and by the time you figure it out you just want it to be over already. Not many movies are able to compact that much action into two hours and still be good, but George Miller pulls it off with grace, showing that there is no school like the old school. The man is about 70 years old, and is obviously still in his prime.
Considering that the movie is still only days old, I'm assuming that many of you are reading this for the sole purpose of helping you decide whether to see it or not, and I'm telling you right now to go see it. And see it in 3D if you can. Totally worth it. If you have seen it, tell me if you agree or disagree with my thoughts in the comments and I'd love to discuss it more!