UK Release Date: 15th May 2015
Runtime: 120 minutes
Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nico Lathouris
Starring: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, Riley Keough, Courtney Eaton, Abbey Lee
Synopsis: In a post-apocalpytic wasteland, an act of theft spawns vehicular mayhem.
Few films have had a path to the big screen as troubled as Mad Max: Fury Road, formerly known as Mad Max 4. It was originally set to shoot in 2001, with Mel Gibson reprising the title role, until the 9/11 attacks put a spanner in the works. The film went through many different iterations through the years, including a potential 3D animated version, until it reached its eventual form, starring Tom Hardy as the titular road warrior.
Max (Hardy) is captured by the War Boys – minions of tyrannical ruler Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) to be used as a blood bag for the terminally ill War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult). His chance for escape arises when Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) steals enormous armed vehicle The War Rig and several of Joe’s “breeder” wives, including pregnant Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and Toast (Zoë Kravitz).
Mad Max: Fury Road is nothing less than a pure, unadulterated, two-hour blast of adrenaline. It’s a big kick up the arse of action cinema, complete with the bizarre sadomasochistic vision of the future that has always characterised George Miller’s Max franchise. The film unfolds as essentially a two-hour action sequence with barely a single pause for breath.
| "Hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane."
Bravely, Miller positions Tom Hardy’s Max as a secondary character in his own movie, foregrounding Charlize Theron as Furiosa. She is a defiant, intriguing character who seems to be the only person capable of making sense of the bizarre world in which Mad Max: Fury Road takes place. Much has been made of the film’s feminist position and it’s certainly true that Miller treats Furiosa as a hero, literally freeing objectified women from Joe’s patriarchal society.
Away from the grand statements though, Mad Max: Fury Road is full of little assertions of its broad narrative message. Hardy plays Max as a taciturn giant, physically dominant but entirely subservient to Furiosa in terms of their quest. Equally intriguing are Immortan Joe’s wives, dressed as sex objects, but acting as something considerably stronger. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, so terrible in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, succeeds her with a more weighty character.
Mad Max: Fury Road would not have worked, though, without the genuine thrills of its action. Miller throws everything at the wall and almost all of it sticks, from pole-vaulting assailants to the omnipresent musical accompaniment of a guitarist armed with a flamethrower. By not giving the audience more than a handful of breathing moments amidst the carmageddon, Miller is able to paper over the thin narrative.
| "I thought you weren’t insane anymore."
For all of its strengths, Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t perfect. It would be nice to see more of Immortan Joe’s intriguingly bizarre society and the film is a little too long at two hours. Those are minor quibbles, though, in the face of a film that is a sheer force of nature that is impossible to forget.
Pop or Poop?
George Miller, at the age of 70, has produced a fiercely modern action movie, powered by his own exploitation sensibilities and intriguing feminist political leanings.
Mad Max: Fury Road assaults the viewer’s senses from the very start in a concoction of jaw-dropping cinematic violence. The dystopian desert landscape provides the perfect backdrop for a film that feels massive whilst maintaining its stark simplicity.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.