'Mad Max: Fury Road': Thrill ride scores near-flawless reviews

Critics agree that George Miller's 'Mad Max: Fury Road' is a post-apocalyptic thrill ride

Taking a cue from the movie, we'll cut right to the chase: "Mad Max: Fury Road" is earning excellent reviews. Critics are nearly unanimous in praising George Miller's post-apocalyptic sequel starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, declaring it a wild, imaginative thrill ride.

The Times' Kenneth Turan writes, "'Mad Max: Fury Road' will leave you speechless, which couldn't be more appropriate. Words are not really the point when it comes to dealing with this barn-burner of a post-apocalyptic extravaganza in which sizzling, unsettling images are the order of the day." The world of the film "has been created with unparalleled imagination, specificity and craziness," while Hardy is "especially good at these feral roles, and Theron is his match here."

But the real star of "Fury Road," Turan says, is Miller, "who dreamed the mighty dream that is this film for more than a decade before being able to bring it to life. It has been worth the wait."

USA Today's Claudia Puig calls "Fury Road" an "operatic extravaganza of thrilling action and nearly non-stop mayhem" that's "exhilarating, deranged and exhausting in almost equal measures." Miller "was exactly the right filmmaker to take on a revamped 'Max,'" Hardy "is terrific as the titular former lawman/lone wolf character," and Theron delivers "the best female action hero since Sigourney Weaver in 'Alien.'"

The Washington Post's Michael O'Sullivan warns that for two hours, "the film barely taps the brakes." He continues, "Whether you are thrown from the vehicle depends entirely on you. Some viewers will never be able to hang on through the story's careening disregard for sense, logic or moderation. I advise them not to even try. But if you know whose car you're getting in — it helps to have seen at least one of Miller's three previous 'Mad Max' films, but it is not required — you're in for one heck of a ride."

Variety's Justin Chang says, "'Fury Road' is, for all intents and purposes, a two-hour car chase interrupted by a brief stretch of anxious downtime, and realized with the sort of deranged grandiosity that confirms Miller's franchise has entered its decadent phase. All the more remarkable, then, that the movie still manages to retain its focus, achieving at once a shrewd distillation and a ferocious acceleration of its predecessors' sensibility. There is gargantuan excess here, to be sure — and no shortage of madness — but there is also an astonishing level of discipline."

The New York Times' A.O. Scott says, "Viewers raised on the more baroque, digitally enabled forms of blockbuster spectacle are likely to admire the relative simplicity of 'Fury Road,' while aficionados of the traditional slam-bang methods will revel in its coherence. Even in the most chaotic fights and collisions, everything makes sense. This is not a matter of realism — come on, now — but of imaginative discipline. And Mr. Miller demonstrates that great action filmmaking is not only a matter of physics but of ethics as well. There is cause and effect; there are choices and consequences."

"It's all great fun, and quite rousing as well — a large-scale genre movie that is at once unpretentious and unafraid to bring home a message."

Among the few — the very few — dissenting voices is the San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle. He writes, "'Fury Road' has an imaginatively realized world, touches of wit and some impressively composed shots. … Yet all this wit and effort and occasional beauty is in the service of a movie that is little more than a two-hour chase scene, one that seems founded on the assumption that if you show one set of people chasing another, that's enough to get an audience excited: Oh, no, let's hope they don't get caught!"

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