Mad Max: Sand, Metal, and Glory

JUNE 12, 2015

The 2015 version of Mad Max does action in a seamless and consistent way unlike anything else I have seen. Scale and single-minded focus raise this movie to the figurative top 1% of chase-based adrenaline junkie blockbusters. At the peak of imagination, nothing in this movie is out of place; every little deformity and mutation lend themselves as wonderfully bizarre details to the mythology that is being presented. I guess it’s time to brush up on Mad Max Wasteland lore. They showed us The Road Warrior back in college, but overall I didn’t have much of a background with this saga, which is not a problem. You really don’t need any context to bear witness to this spectacle, this visual masterpiece of sand and metal. This is the new gold standard for action movies.

The movie’s pistons pump as vigorously as the engines in the vehicles themselves do – each moment is practically surging with force as the journey charges forward. Punctuated in between in-your-face pans and tracking shots are silent overhead views dotted by colorful signal fireworks. These shots take a step back to remind us how insignificant the survivors are in this never ending and lifeless desert. Each sequence is unique and paces out differently, and not once does the action ever feel repetitive or gratuitous. There are a variety of set pieces here. I’ve gotten the impression that directors will add unique signature details to movies as a calling card for the impression that they are trying to set. For instance, in Django Unchained, Tarantino literally blowing himself up with a pack of dynamite symbolized his explosive impact on the film industry. Here, George Miller’s sandstorm sequence is a giant stamp on the action and special effects industry, and serves as a final note at the end of his opening chase set piece as if to say, “Welcome, you’ve finally made it to my Mad Max, this is what it will be all about”. When the final chase came to a close I noticed how deep and good the breath I took felt. I then realized I couldn’t remember the last breath I took. I was practically holding my breath for an entire movie. Afterwards, someone asked me if I wanted to go see the new Avengers next, and I said that I’d rather go see Mad Max again, a second time, before going to see an entirely new movie. So that’s exactly what I did. Still haven’t seen the Avengers.