Action, Road Movie
Like any good old-fashioned action movie, Mad Max: Fury Road is written in sequences, rather than scenes. It's all about one action movement to the next. First we've got the bit initial chase, and then we've got the middle bit featuring the battle in the canyon and their escape to the Vuvalini. Finally, we've got the race back to the Citadel, which serves as the climatic battle.
So far so action movie, right?
Twisting the Tropes
Right, but Fury Road ain't your grandma's action flick. In a recent interview, director George Miller explained, "I treat action movies very, very seriously […] It's not something like: Here's a movie with talkie bits and now some action. We were trying to conflate the two." What he means is that the movie rarely pauses in the action to do character building and provide long, lingering moments of quiet exposition. Instead, all the character building and exposition is achieved on the move, conveyed through the character's physical behavior and decision-making in the chaotic crisis they're experiencing.
In that sense, Fury Road takes the typical action movie structure and turns it on its head. With its emphasis on visual storytelling (see "Narrative Technique"), Fury Road makes the action the sum total of the movie. It's not just there to look cool—it's there to tell stories, convey emotions, and yes, look cool. Miller can pull this off because of the movie's relentless attention to detail—and the fans' relentless attention to those details.
That attention to visual detail also reminds Shmoop of the old classic silent movies of the early film industry. With so little dialogue and so much visual feasting going on, the movie could even work if you took all that dialogue out. George Miller is known for his respect for the silent classics, and there's no doubt that influence bled its way into Fury Road.
One for the Road
And speaking of the road, there's no denying that Fury Road is a road movie through and through. But just as it twists and tweaks the action movie genre, so this one puts its own spin on the road genre. When we think about road movies, we often think about characters seeking freedom in the great wide open—the classic Great American Road Trip. But in this case, our characters take to the road in sheer desperation, and those wide-open spaces are more of a threat than a promise. In one final twist, rather than spending the movie stopping along the way and experiencing the places they move through—as is the standard fare for a road trip—Max, Furiosa, and co. spend the entire trip on the move. The road itself is the setting. Fury Road is less about place, and more about the chase and race.