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'Mad Max: Fury Road' was all that -- and I want even more

Opinion: "Fury Road" lives up to the hype as a truly great action movie. So CNET's Kelsey Adams is driving the wrong way with a little "Yes, but..."

Kelsey Adams Senior copy editor / Reviews
CNET senior copy editor and contributor Kelsey Adams was raised by computer programmers and writers, so she communicates best by keyboard. Loves genre fiction, RPGs, action movies; has long, fraught relationship with comics. Come talk to her on Twitter.
Kelsey Adams
4 min read

The movie's been out for weeks and the time is past for staying spoiler-free, so let's just get into it. I mean, you've seen it by now, right? "="" is="" as="" good="" everyone="" says"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="1677b46e-6fd8-4006-ba9f-70c6880d1940" slug="mad-max-fury-road-jawdropping-ode-to-the-road-spoiler-free-review" link-text="" section="news" title="'Mad Max: Fury Road' is a jawdropping ode to the road (spoiler-free review)" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"1677b46e-6fd8-4006-ba9f-70c6880d1940","slug":"mad-max-fury-road-jawdropping-ode-to-the-road-spoiler-free-review","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"culture"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Culture","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> . From that gorgeous, otherworldly sandstorm to the Gas Town boss idly rubbing his nipple, it's smooth, fast and dream-logical to the end.

The gender roles are fairly traditional but allow a great range of characters. Max has been vulnerable before in the series -- it doesn't exactly compromise his masculinity -- and making him a literal figurehead here is genius. The suggestion that in Imperator Furiosa he's found some kind of kindred, even a friend, is beautifully done.

I laughed (several times), I cried (twice), I haven't watched so much of a movie from between my fingers since the first time I saw "Aliens." So just to help me come down off the high, here are my problems with it.

Worst one up front: the two leads look great, but it's better when they don't talk.

Warner Bros.

Tom Hardy's no Mel Gibson. He's not supplying the charisma to carry that much staring and grunting. I'll give him credit for the delivery on "That -- is bait," but most of the time he talks like he's in "Planet of the Apes." As one of the apes.

And Charlize Theron could have been grittier. Don't get me wrong, she looks amazing. That shot early on when she checks the rearview mirror and her eye meets yours should be a movie classic. Furiosa's arm prosthetic makes her the embodiment of a human race that's kept going after drastic losses. She fights like a dream and even the stubble on her head is perfectly mixed with gray. (I love that guy who's her right-hand man on the war rig, by the way, just trying to obey everyone's orders and do his job. He's so comically reasonable about it all.)

But she talks...more like a normal, civilized person than someone who fought her way up out of toddler slavery to be a warlord's sub-boss with her own caravan. What exactly did she do to make them think it wasn't worth chaining her beautiful healthy self up for sex and milking like the others? She must have been an amazing badass wild amazon killer fury incarnate. But she just seems...nice.

Speaking of which, Furiosa was her actual birth name? That makes sense as a battle name, but her mother(s) actually called her that as a little girl? "Here, Furiosa, have some milk! It's naptime, Fufu honey!"

Regarding my favorite unnamed character: Who slides down a rope naked? OW! She could have kept a robe up on the platform, c'mon. (Judging from the credits, a lot of the characters did have names, just no time to waste on saying them! Move along!)

Speaking of speaking, what seemed like a running joke about explosions damaging Max's hearing never went anywhere. That happened three or four times, and he could always hear fine afterwards. OK...? Did I miss a payoff?

And why are they all so casual about WASTING WATER? I'm not talking about the big waterfall-fountain thing, that was about myth and psychological dominance. Ditto the inefficient system of overfeeding nursing mothers and drinking their milk; that was deliberately loony and symbolic, I've got no problem with that.

Warner Bros.

But in the scene by the truck when our heroes are flinging that hose around, they should be wincing and acting like every drop is precious. I treat water more respectfully than that just from growing up in California. Though, the wives were used to the "high life"...

OK, I'm out of actual objections. Here are things I know the movie was better without, but I'm still wishing we could somehow see.

- I was actually curious how they farm gas and bullets.

- Did Furiosa have a particular friend among the wives? How did they get time alone with her and convince her to help? I imagine there's earnest fanfic about this so I guess that's covered.

- But can we please have the prequel movie showing how Furiosa worked her way up to being an Imperator? You know that was hella cinematic. You know she can carry a film. There is ROOM FOR THIS, Hollywood. "Furiosa: Rise of the Warlady." Don't ask her for milk, she's one bad mother.

- What happened to the group Max helped in the second movie, and the kids in the third movie? Could they join up with this crew eventually and form a new, much less rape-and-murder-based nation spanning the desert? People keep trying; you can see people keep trying.

- I feel like Nux invented his own type of Valhalla for himself and it's where they're all going to go from now on and I wonder what it looks like.

Warner Bros.