Jasin Boland
Nicole Sperling
April 23, 2015 AT 05:43 PM EDT

Mad Max: Fury Road opens with a car chase, a capture, and our hero, broken-down cop Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) strung upside-down as a human IV bag, draining his much-desired blood into the arms of the fanatical war boys who will do anything for their boss, the evil warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

It’s not exactly a hero’s welcome. But Fury Road isn’t exactly your traditional action movie. In this week’s Entertainment Weekly, we explore writer-director George Miller’s 12-years-in-the-planning western-on-wheels, a film so relentless to the senses, you may never look at action movies the same way again. 

It’s a movie without sex, with almost no dialogue, set in a toxic wasteland. The Immortan has enslaved every woman to breed and provide milk to his troops, boys who are dying from their poisoned world and who believe that by fighting for him they will be granted an idyllic afterlife. (All that’s missing from this allegory is the promise of 72 virgins.) 

If that sounds a little heavy, we suggest you buckle up. This is a movie that challenges our perceptions about women and freedom, heroism and extremism, and perhaps movies themselves. “It’s really intense,” says Charlize Theron, who plays Imperator Furiosa, a heroine propelled by revenge who serves as the catalyst for the 110 minutes of non-stop, high-adrenaline chase across the deserts of Namibia. “Even for somebody who was there, it’s a lot to take in. I left the theater feeling like I was just hit in the face.” 

In the story, EW also talks to Hardy about his meeting with the original Mad Max, Mel Gibson; to Miller, about his motivations to return to a wildly successful franchise he established 30 years ago; and to Theron, about the sheer difficulty of the project. 

For more on Mad Max, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday.

Jasin Boland

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