By CORY WOODROOF

It’s safe to say that there are no films like “Mad Max: Fury Road” out in theaters right now.

It’s safe to say that there are no films like “Mad Max: Fury Road” out in theaters right now.

In fact, there hasn’t been a movie to come along like this in quite some time. The fourth post-apocalyptic Max Rockatansky film from multi-talented director George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road” showcases a level of craft and kinetic energy that feels transported from a simpler time in blockbuster filmmaking.

Instead of installing a franchise building block, introducing 500 plot lines for future films or encumbering the pace with heavy exposition, “Fury Road” charges right at you from the start and refuses to let up. It’s a relentless adventure saddled with enough original action and gripping chase sequences to wrap around as many dystopian deserts you can find.

Miller last forayed into the action genre with his third Max film, 1985’s “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” so this is the first time the auteur has had the visual treasure chest of the 21st century with which to work.

Having spent plenty of time with practical effects in his heyday, Miller fuses the rust and dust of personally-crafted sets and effects with the otherworldly possibilities of computer generated visuals to create some of the more striking sequences put on screen in a while.

He also helped write the screenplay with Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris. “Fury Road” takes a page from Screenwriting 101 and lets the movie do the talking, not the characters. Instead of a 15-minute introduction into how this apocalyptic world became to be, the film jumps right into Max’s now.

A loner bothered by a dark past, Max (Tom Hardy) is captured by an army of pale soldiers and is taken to the Citadel, a refuge for survivors governed by King Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). The impressively-designed Joe is a hulking creation, complete with beaming red-and-yellow eyes, pro-wrestler’s hair and physique and a mask that looks like a cross between Bane’s from “The Dark Knight Rises” and the intimidation art that goes on the headgear of a hockey goalie.

Max’s capture eventually crosses over into a plot to save Joe’s many “wives” from bondage – an effort led by government high-up Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Hauling a large tanker across an unforgiving desert on the infamous Fury Road, Furiosa botches a gas trip and breaks for freedom with her passengers. But, Joes’ army – an assortment of his brainwashed followers driving terrifying mix-and-match Hot Wheels – isn’t too far behind. So, with Max placed as a hood ornament on one of the soldier’s (the eager Nux, played by Nicolas Hoult) cars , the race begins, leading into two hours of dusty-pedal-to-the-rusty-metal insanity.

The chase scenes in the film are one-of-a-kind – special scenes that haven’t been done before and likely won’t be replicated in the future. Miller keeps them snapping along with great precision, mixing in thrill after thrill and close call after close call. The real-and-unreal effects and soaring stunt work help make the zooming chases, at times, feel almost iconic. Junkie XL adds in an operatic score that backs the action in a way that feels legitimately epic.

One sequence in particular – a chase through a Technicolor sandstorm of tornados, lighting and blinding gusts – has to be seen on the biggest screens possible (as does the rest of this movie, for that matter). It’s a scene of premiere VFX work and perhaps the most impressive visual scene to ever hit a movie screen in years. John Seale’s gorgeous cinematography gets a bulk of the credit for the film’s visual presentation. Seale plays around with the color scheme in certain situations to great effect and brings forth a sharp presentation for the entire film.

Hardy and Theron make for solid leads, with the physically-demanding role requirements met by each with ease. As the film progresses, both Max and Furiosa begin to develop a silent friendship, which must become possible through various glances in strenuous situations. Both actors do a splendid job of being able to get affection across in the midst of all the chaos. Hoult also makes a solid mark as the spiny Nux.

With “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Miller is able to make a nearly-flawless popcorn film with ingredients that most studios would shy away from. This is weird, lived-in material that puts a great deal of trust in its audience to read between the lines into how the mechanics of this world work. The payments are as rich as they are rewarding.

No other studio film this year will feature a guitar-playing battle musician with flames shooting out of the instrument’s head, a baby-man with a beard and a two-headed lizard that slithers across the barren dirt.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is a slobbernocking achievement that also happens to be a singular experience, best seen on the most gargantuan screen possible with friends, soda, candy and a jaw that can be dropped at will.