Did those bikers REALLY lob grenades at that War Rig while they were in the middle of catching some sick air? Is that War Boy REALLY wielding a guitar/flamethrower hybrid REALLY while affixed to his vehicle via bungie cords? DID THAT SAND TORNADO REALLY JUST FLING THAT PURSUIT CAR AROUND UNTIL IT WAS RIPPED APART INTO SEPARATE SEGMENTS THAT THEN COMBUSTED INDEPENDENTLY? All of these things are the best things!
Despite their box-office popularity, action films rarely garner widespread critical acclaim. The film industry bakes this assumption into its business model, releasing its "Oscar-caliber" films (i.e., the ones without the shooty-blasties) closer to awards shows and leaving the summer open for the sequels and the fireworks. Mad Max: Fury Road has resoundingly overturned these sorts of expectations. Currently resting at an usually high 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this film and its combustion tornadoes are positioned to make a serious run for best film of the year in all sorts of critics' associations.
I think that the euphoric reaction to the release of this genuinely great action film has occasionally veered into the realm of hyperbole and overwrought analysis. This movie features several capable women that have actual agency in how events unfold (which is great!), but it probably isn't the pinnacle of feminism. Fury Road's protagonists have a strong will to survive and fight for their ideals in the face of adversity, but I'm not sure that watching it will drive humanity as a whole "towards hope, enlightenment and redemption."
If anything, the key to this movie's success is the simplicity and succinct nature of its storytelling. Despite being the fourth entry in a long-running franchise, Fury Road does not require any understanding of previous events to be enjoyed. A couple of lines of from an opening monologue refer to "oil wars" and "water wars" as primary causes of a near-apocalypse: got it! After that, the film's central location is established, a chase sequence unfolds, and the action almost never lets up from there. Most character development takes place in the form of knowing glances and body language, with the title character almost never saying a word. This streamlined, no-nonsense approach is a total breath of fresh air after all of the superfluous exposition and Thor going to some stupid spirit-pool for some reason-ness of Age of Ultron.
Fury Road instead invests its time and energy into providing a plethora of striking visual details, practical effects and creative setpieces. Little details, like the War Boys grabbing their personalized steering wheels from racks before rushing off to battle, make this movie pop with personality. Everything on display has an internal, twisted logic to it, and the logistics involved in keeping the heroes' massive war rig operational provide several interesting layers to the action. The film's two-hour runtime effortlessly flies by.
Simply put, I can't think of an action movie that I've enjoyed more than this in recent years.