Director: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones.
Written by: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nick Lathouris
Running Time: 120 mins
Release date: 14th May 2015
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since we were last visited by Max Rockatansky. In fact it was 30 years ago that Mad Max went to the Thunderdome. So now we have a new Max (Mr Gibson has stepped aside), a new generation of fresh faced audiences to impress and a whole new adventure for the post-apocalyptic wanderer. So was it worth the wait? Absolutely, 100% it was. For this doesn’t just push the action genre to a new level, it rams it to new heights.
Wandering the wastelands of a world where water, fuel and greenery are in very short supply, former cop now loner, suffering from flashbacks of his previous life, is captured and taken to a city run by the masked fiend, Immortan Joe. Used as a human blood bank by Nux, one of Joe’s followers, Max is dragged out into the desert as an elaborate hood ornament in order to chase down Imperator Furiosa, a truck driving woman, who has stolen the brides of Joe in order to take them to a better place. Once out in the open, Max escapes and joins Furiosa on a madcap chase for their own survival.
Director George Miller, the man behind the whole Mad Max saga, decided early on not to do a reboot or a remake, instead a continuing adventure for his former highway cop. He then took everything that worked in the masterpiece that is Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and has turned it right up to ridiculously spectacular. Right from the moment it starts, it sets the mood, the tone and the pace of the rest of this 2 hour behemoth, then never drops it.
We get cars crashing, metal grinding, bodies flying, explosions, brutal deaths, and the kind of carnage you’d expect to see at a stock car race, only tripled, then tripled again. Miller never once underplays a single moment of the action. He has his stuntmen, who must be either nuts or being paid the earth, to do things that most normal human beings would walk away saying “No amount of money…”
80% of what is up on the screen is real. So when you see a body crashing in a heap after being flung from a movie vehicle, you can be sure that isn’t a dummy or some clever CGI wizardry. And this is the film crowning glory. It is relentless in its strides to make the audience sit mouths wide open. You cannot help but be amazed by what is up on the screen. Then Miller pauses for a moment for a little exposition, then starts it all up again. By the time the closing credits begin, you are completely exhausted from experiencing this monster of a roller coaster.
Even the quieter moments are less than silent. A fight sequence between Furiosa, Max and Nux, who Max is chained to, is breath-taking in its complexity and choreography. You have to applaud anyone who can make a set piece like this seem fresh, interesting and, more importantly, exciting as Miller has done.
What is also impressive is the production values. Joe’s homeland fortress, full of cogs and human mice wheels is a wonder to behold. Miller has taken the costumes, car designs and general look of the films he made in the 80’s and given them a fresh new feel to them. All aided by John Seale’s stunning cinematography and a colour palette that not only captures the desert and all the trappings but makes you feel you are there among the sand dunes.
Then we have the cast. Stepping into Gibson’s shoes comes Tom Hardy. A quieter, more intense Max than before, with the past tapping him on his shoulder constantly and his own fight for survival, Hardy not only looks the part but he never tries to carbon copy what Gibson did, instead he brings a more brooding Max to the screen. Charlize Theron, complete with shaved head and prosthetic arm (one of the few CGI moments) is a tough, no-nonsense Furiosa, who not only compliments Max but often equals or out fights him. It’s always refreshing to see the female lead given more than just a damsel in distress role. In fact, there are moments when without Furiosa, Max would cease to be.
Initially worried that all the hype surrounding the film would end up delivering a disappointment, Mad Max: Fury Road delivers by the bucket load. Exciting, inventive, big, bold, bizarre and bonkers nuts, this is one film that every cinema seat should come with its own seat belt. A blaze of action that is going to be impossible to top. Bet Miller does though, as Hardy and Max are returning in the not-too-distant future. Hurry up, I say.