When the credits rolled at the end of Fury Road, I took a deep breath. It felt like the first breath I'd taken in two hours. I've seen lots of action movies in my life, and in our modern era of CGI-drenched superhero flicks that often feel like they're trying to tick boxes to make sure they've shoehorned in every cliche, it's refreshing to watch a movie that's executed with such uncompromising focus.
The action, which uses a surprising amount of astounding practical effects and doesn't overdo the CG, looks absolutely amazing. When I wasn't caught up in the urgency of every scene, I was in awe of the sheer spectacle of it all. It's violent as hell, too. But, as with the CG, the violence isn't overdone. It could have easily been like Rambo (2006), with body parts flying everywhere; but instead the gore is saved for a couple of key moments when it has real impact.
What's amazing to me is that despite the sheer kinetic madness of the movie — which is nearly non-stop through the entire film — it tells a memorable story and gives us characters we cheer and jeer, and struggles that are believable. There's not much room for humanity in the Wasteland, but George Miller manages to find it. And the nearly non-stop action is itself a remarkably effective narrative device, and its ballet-like precision imparts a strange elegance within the brutality.
I feel like Fury Road has raised the bar for action movies, and it might be a while before we see something of this caliber again.