Changing the game for the action genre in 1981 with The Road Warrior, director George Miller rewrites the rules once more, as he revives the Mad Max franchise with Fury Road, the most exhilarating cinema experience you will have all year.
Tom Hardy is recast as Max Rockatansky, taking over from Mel Gibson who played Max in the three previous films. Hardy manages to impressively capture the essence of the iconic character, without impersonating Gibson. With subtle body language key to the role, Hardy is a perfect fit, being the physical actor he has become renowned for. Each of the Mad Max films, including the latest, have distinct personalities, separating Miller’s franchise from others that churn out more of the same with each new film. Fury Road sees Max tormented by the victims he could not save, his past eating away at him and on the verge of losing his mind, he now simply drifts and survives in the wasteland.
In arguably the best performance of her career, Charlize Theron is Imperator Furiosa, a heroine in the same league as Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor, whose unrelenting grit and drive to find redemption propels the narrative forward, enabling the film to continue roaring to the end credits. In keeping with the previous films, Max isn’t the focal point, Hardy and Theron share equal screen time and the chemistry between them is a joy to watch, pages of dialogue are not needed, as the pair express vast amounts to each other with just a glance or nod.
Max is captured as the film opens, he then becomes entangled with Furiosa as she begins to drive her War Rig, originally sent to collect gasoline, off-route in order to escape cult leader and ruler Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Joe quickly discovers Furiosa has also taken his five “wives” (young women he has selected and kept prisoner to breed with, played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton). Enraged, he leads his army of War Boys to recapture them, which includes a sick War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who now has the captured Max attached to his car, supplying him with blood, transforming Max into a human blood bag.
What follows is a continuous chase through raw, post-apocalyptic desert. The narrative progresses with the engine on and pedal very much to the floor, as Miller tells the story of Fury Road physically, constantly moving forward without screeching to a halt in order to abruptly cut to a scene of dialogue. In the hands of any other director the action may get convoluted, with Miller your eyes never lose sight of the action, the organised chaos is centre stage in all its glory, with each scene escalating and eclipsing the last.
Already considered one of the best action films of all time, Fury Road has broken the mould of the modern blockbuster, by having thrilling action without disregarding character and emotion. With very human characters, jaw-dropping practical stunts mixed seamlessly with the latest CGI, Fury Road is an encompassing two-hour journey inside of Miller’s imagination, a place I hope we return to soon in future instalments.
Fans of the previous films will revel in revisiting George Miller’s vision of a post-apocalyptic world. However, it is entirely accessible to newcomers. Either way, I urge you to see Mad Max: Fury Road.