What a lovely day!
After years (and years) in development hell, George Miller brings Max Rockatansky back to the big screen in Mad Max: Fury Road. Tom Hardy takes up the lead role from Mel Gibson, and is joined by Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa and Nicholas Hoult as War Boy Nux.
If anyone isn’t familiar with the original Mad Max films, the world has been destroyed, civilization has crumbled, and Mad Max is a man trying to survive in post-Apocalyptic Australia. We join him here alone and tortured by the visions of the people he has not been able to save. In fact, see the poster at the top of this article? That is the first shot of the film. He is captured by the War Boys and taken to the Citadel, a settlement ruled by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also played villain Toecutter in the original Mad Max), where he is kept as a “blood bag”. Max is literally kept alive to provide a supply of blood for any sick or injured War Boys.
At the same time, Imperator Furiosa (Theron) is being sent out in a war rig to visit Gas Town and the Bullet Farm to collect (surprise, surprise) gasoline and bullets. As she leaves the Citadel however, she decides on a detour, having taken Immortan Joe’s five “wives” – the only healthy women in the community that he has kept enslaved as breeders. They are heading towards “The Green Place”, a settlement of freedom and lush vegetation in the east. Joe is soon in pursuit, with his fleet of vehicles led by his son Rictus Erectus (one time WWE superstar Nathan Jones) and manned by his army of War Boys, including the sickly Nux (Hoult), who decides to take his blood bag Max along for the ride.
And don’t worry about these being spoilers, we are barely into the first act of the film. What follows is 90 minutes of mayhem. The level of detail that goes into what we see on screen is fantastic. Each settlement along the way provides another wave of chasers, each having adapted to their environment – vehicular Darwinism at its best.
At the centre of all the madness are two great performances, playing two characters looking for redemption. Tom Hardy brings parts of his previous Bronson and Bale characters to the role, and focuses mostly on the “Man with No Name” aspects of Max. We are well into the second hour of the film before he actually speaks his first complete sentence. The little thumbs up he gives in the trailer is about as emotional as he gets.
However, the star of the show is Charlize Theron as Furiosa. George Miller has talked about the next film in the franchise being called Mad Max: Furiosa, but to be honest, this is her film. Theron has plenty of strength and bad ass attitude, but the depth the Oscar winner brings in just a few troubled glances really sells the loss and tragedy at the core of her character. Furiosa needs redemption just as much as Max, and in less capable hands this character could be too similar to Max. Some people have compared this role to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from Alien3 (visually at least they are similar) and if we get to see the Furiosa character again, she could end up just as iconic as Ripley.
There is one upsetting scene that I have to mention, involving childbirth, so if you are squeamish please be advised. But in a way, that shows how far away from the exploitation roots of Mad Max – this is a proper action blockbuster. It’s not just an ultra-violent, niche cinema piece (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and if Michael Bay could make films like this, Hollywood would be a much better place.
This is 2 hours of mayhem. See it on the biggest screen that you can. Then go and see it again.
Check out my review of Pitch Perfect 2 here. It’s been a week of extremes!