I once read a review of Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. George Miller, 2015) that described the opening action sequence as the greatest car chase scene in history, and the worst one in the film.
The interesting thing is that while watching Mad Max: Fury Road, it can at times feel as though the film is just a single lengthened car chase. But many reviews across the board sing unanimous praise for the film, with some agreeing that it is perhaps one of the greatest action films ever made.
When perusing these reviews, it becomes clear that much of the praise is rooted in the fact that the filmmakers famously tried to use as little CGI as possible, opting for stunts and practical effects instead. This certainly made waves in this day and age, where a reliance on CGI in this genre has become a staple. I, like many, have a substantial amount of respect and appreciation for this attempt at a more classic approach to filmmaking. At the same time, I would argue that a distinction should be made between the process behind-the-scenes and the final product. If CGI was used to create identical shots and sequences that were featured in Fury Road, there would have been nothing lost.
I think the beauty of Fury Road lies in its simplicity. Director George Miller takes time to expand upon the post-apocalyptic world that he established in the previous films, but Fury Road never feels bogged down by this pursuit. The film has a dynamic energy, constantly flowing from scene to scene. While the connectedness of the sequences elevates the film, I think it also stands out in the action genre in the way that every character feels significant. Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is the leading character, but he feels more like a conduit for the audience to experience the story.
And yes, of course, the way that the action sequences have been shot and edited is nothing short of sublime, and these scenes are easily the heart of the film. It’s easy to assume that this was only made possible through the use of CGI alternatives, but when watching, could we even tell the difference?
Mad Max: Fury Road is currently streaming on HBO MAX.