Mad Max: Fury Road could have been a generic reboot; instead, writer-director George Miller has brought us an original story distinguished by thorough world-building, superb casting, and anarchic visual flair.
The film features a unique dystopian setting (including a matriarchal biker community and a desert kingdom ruled by a lecherous warlord), and numerous high-octane car chases (gorgeously rendered using practical effects and working vehicles).
Moreover, beneath the bombast lies an intelligent story.
Fury Road fully invests in its supporting characters; brainwashed warboy Nux has a redemptive arc that could have anchored a whole movie, and the “damsels in distress” are as tough and capable as their rescuers. Meanwhile, the titular Max remains an enigma, leaving Charlize Theron’s Furiosa as the hero worth rooting for.
I’d be surprised to see such a full-blown action movie – let alone one this smart and inventive – win Best Picture. But Fury Road deserves the honour.
Originally published in The Fulcrum as part of The Fulcrum Picks the Oscars Best Picture; edited by Allegra Morgando and featuring contributions from Deborah Sogelola and Alannah Williams