Mad Max: Fury Road – 4.5 stars

This is a really fine action film, all the more impressive for its lack of CGI and enhanced by an intricate dystopian vision and some very bizarre, very cool, hard comic-book baddies.  The plot is elemental.  The world has gone to shit, and barbaric fiefdoms and clans reliant on gasoline have arisen from the ashes. Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a trusted lieutenant and gas runner of the chief bad guy, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), takes something very precious from him and in the process, is assisted by Mad Max (Tom Hardy) and a fundamentalist acolyte of the heavy (Nicholas Hoult) who turns from the dark side.  So, they are chased, and then, they double back through the dusty hell that is the future, and threaten all Immortan Joe possesses.

There isn’t much beyond action here, but it is inventive and exciting.  Hardy and Theron are taciturn, eschewing even Eastwoodian comic understatement.  They leave it to Hoult to provide most of the pathos, and he is an endearing motorized jihadist.  Thankfully, the movie does not really try to communicate how the world came to be so barren and unforgiving, a blessing, because there is nothing quite so annoying in today’s dystopian films than the inevitable philosophical discussions masquerading as backstory, where we learn how we pissed it all away, and why the sufferers must keep suffering (see Snowpiercer, Elysium, In Time).

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