Directed By: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Tag line: "Only the Mad Survive"
Trivia: Over 80% of the effects seen in the film are practical effects, stunts, make-up and sets
It took 30 years for director George Miller to make the next installment in the Mad Max series, and believe me when I tell you it was well worth the wait. 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road is more than a cinematic assault on the senses; it’s a goddamn blitzkrieg, and it will leave you worn out, stunned, and thoroughly entertained.
Since the world collapsed, the road warrior, aka Max (Tom Hardy), has roamed the wastelands of Australia, doing whatever it takes to survive. Following a run-in with a group of heavily armed marauders known as the War Boys, Max is taken prisoner and forced to serve as a permanent blood donor for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a sickly War Boy suffering from a life-threatening illness. The War Boys are the faithful servants of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the tyrannical leader of a desert community who, in an effort to get more fuel for his vast army of vehicles, sends one of his most trusted lieutenants, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), to Gas Town, a nearby refinery. Driving a fuel tanker, Furiosa and her War Boy escorts head into the desert, but it isn’t long before she suddenly changes course.
As it turns out, Furiosa had no intention of ever going to Gas Town, and is instead on a mission of mercy to deliver Immortan Joe’s five wives, Capable (Riley Keough), Cheedo (Courtney Eaton), the Dag (Abbey lee), Toast the Knowing (Zoe Kravitz) and the very pregnant Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), to the safety of the “Green Place”, an idyllic oasis where Immortan Joe can’t reach them. Once they realize what she’s up to, Joe and his remaining War Boys climb into their vehicles and give chase, driving as fast as they can to overtake Furiosa and “rescue” the wives. Not wanting to miss out on such a glorious hunt, the weakened Nux hops into a car and, with his “blood bag” Max strapped to the hood, joins the others in their high-speed pursuit…
Tom Hardy steps nicely into the role of the loner, Max, playing the character with enough gusto to make him a convincing bad-ass. But what surprised me most about Mad Max: Fury Road is that Max himself is almost relegated to a supporting role in his own film (for much of the first hour or so, he’s either locked up in prison or chained to the front of a car that’s doing well over 100 miles per hour). Picking up the slack, so to speak, are Charlize Theron as Furiosa, who, despite the fact she’s missing one of her arms, is every bit as tough as Max, and a lot smarter than the War Boys riding along with her (none of whom know what she’s up to). As for the film’s heavy, Hugh Keays-Byrne (who was Toecutter in the original Mad Max) reminded me of the Humongous from The Road Warrior: like that earlier character, Immortan Joe is an imposing figure hidden behind a mask who has an entire army at his disposal. The remaining supporting roles are also well-cast (especially Nicholas Hoult as the maniacal Nux), but the wildest character is one who never utters a word: The Doof Warrior (played by Australian singer / songwriter Iota), a War Boy who, while Immortan Joe is chasing Furiosa, is on top of an over-sized vehicle equipped with dozens of speakers and amplifiers, and is performing rock music as flames shoot from his guitar! The Doof Warrior stands out in every scene he’s in, providing Joe and his troops with their own soundtrack as they speed through the desert. In a movie filled with awesome characters, the Doof Warrior could be the most fascinating of the bunch.
As with the previous movies, George Miller manages to create a convincing post-apocalyptic world for Mad Max: Fury Road (Immortan Joe’s headquarters, complete with its poverty-stricken minions and man-made waterfall, is damn cool). More than anything, though, Mad Max: Fury Road is a high-octane action film, with one amazing sequence after another. As with Mad Max and its sequels, director Miller did the majority of the chase scenes practically (as opposed to using CGI), adding a realistic feel that raises the tension several notches. It’s hard to pick one moment from the film as my “favorite”, but if I had to choose, it would be the sequence set inside the massive sand storm (I was so blown away by this scene that I had to bring it back and immediately watch it again). As good as the chases were in the series’ other entries, Mad Max: Fury Road may actually have them beat.
Hands down, Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best action films I’ve viewed in a while, and it’s nice to see that, after nearly 3 decades, “Mad” Max Rockatansky hasn’t lost his edge.
Nor, for that matter, has George Miller.