To my surprise and delight, the movie is as unhinged and intense as advertised.
It brought back memories of 1981, when I persuaded a friend that if we acted mature, we'd be mistaken for 18-year-olds, and allowed into the Restricted Adult fare that was The Road Warrior. The matron in the ticket booth took pity on us, and let us in. And our minds were blown.
Fury Road out-furies that movie by a very wide margin, and even manages to scorch out most of the sad and curdled memories from my one and only viewing of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Most, but not all. Honestly, the scenes that brought me right to the edge of my seat were those quiet interludes between the 30-minute chase scenes -- scenes when the actors started talking. Would Miller keep the pontificatin' down to "You're out there among the garbage," or would he succumb to a lengthy "Time counts and keeps countin'... etc"?
Good news: all pontificatin' is super-brief. Also simplistic, fueling the sort of gender-politics flame-wars that get ignited over such things. And, sure, it's a little rich to suggest women would never fuck up the planet as badly as men have, but within the framework of the film, it's an argument that persuades. What we see in 110 minutes of car chases is the masculine id completely freed of feminine tethers. Who does not feel genuine horror while watching all this feral masculine energy bear down on a truck full of girls? Just a glance at today's news headlines more than confirms that this scenario plays itself out in real time, again and again.
So, yeah: it's a message movie. And if you're feeling the thrill, you're getting the message.
Locke Petersheim pens my favourite review, over here.