A brutal, non-stop chase movie which has elements from the previous trilogy of Mel Gibson films but is fuel-injected with its own updated mechanical mayhem.
Tortured by his past and wondering across a desolate, post-apocalyptic landscape on his own, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) lives behind the wheel of his car trying to escape from all sorts of demons. With no water, power of communities to speak of, the desperate remnants of society find themselves drawn to the Citadel. This home to a violent warlord known as Immortan Joe, is where Max is imprisoned when he is captured. His body is to supply blood to a lowly War Boy, one of the minions who literally drive Joe’s sadistic operation. Nux (Nicholas Hoult) sees a chance for immortality when a rogue warrior escapes taking the most valued of Joe’s possessions with her.
Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), is a one-armed rig driver, who has taken off with the 5 wives of the Warlord in search of a better life. The wives are to provide a healthy male heir to Joe, and were locked away to suffer their grisly fate. As they head off, Nux takes Max and leads the charge to capture the women and bring them back to the Citadel.
Over the course of the breathless chase, Max finds himself forming an unlikely alliance and finding possible salvation on a dusty, arid and unpredictable road to redemption.
The setup is pretty simple: the film is essentially an all-out bonkers chase movie filled with eye-popping visual effects and carnage of the highest order. It’s inventive in a way that has never been seen before on the big screen, relishing in the mechanical mayhem to create some unforgettable set pieces. There is never enough time to take them all in, but this only serves to increase the repeat value of Fury Road – you will want to see it again and again.
There are so many clever touches that you can be certain you will have missed some gems. The use of music is astounding, the famed flame-throwing guitar player of the trailer is backed by a troop of drummers to provide a war cry that doubles up as one of the best soundtracks of the year. The fact that these “musicians” are also incorporated into the action later on is a mark of a director fully living in the world he has created.
When George Miller first unleashed Mad Max to the world in 1979, the sparse landscape he used gave us a perfect backdrop for the “real” action he delivered. Mel Gibson brought a vulnerable touch, with a heartbreaking backstory to power his blood lust. Tom Hardy shares the same pain, with nothing given away about where he comes from. Mad Max: Fury Road serves as a sequel/reboot in that sense, but the key is in keeping the mythology of a loner with a mysterious past.
As such, Hardy has little dialogue to work with, and few moments in which to show any human emotion. He is a big brute of a man, and that suits Max’s character perfectly. There are a few neat nods to the original series scattered throughout the film too, fans will recognise what Max has in store when he pulls the trigger on his loaded shotgun, for example.
Hardy squares off against the equally impressive Charlize Theron for one of the best fist-fights in recent years. Both actors give it their all, and Theron more than holds her own. Furiosa’s agenda might be a tad muddled, but she is a fearsome foe for all that cross her.
All the characters actually thrive in the uncompromising Mad Max universe. The visual style of the film is accurately represented by the trailers, which for once do the finished film justice. It’s vibrant but also dirty and grubby. The chaos we see aims to better what goes before it; there is glee in waiting for the next incomprehensible use of a vehicle as a weapon. The anticipation is reminiscent of the best moments from the Final Destination franchise for sheer demented fun.
Mad Max: Fury Road is an unqualified success, roaring onto the big screen and serving as a breath of fresh air. It clears the cobwebs of the faux-intelligent Blockbusters that seem to plague us every summer.