Film Review The one thing you can definitely say about George Miller’s revival of his post-apocalyptic Aussie outback petrolhead Mad Max is that it stays true to the original films.
There’s no Mel Gibson this time around, of course, instead the mantle of the monosyllabic, mentally-compromised desert drifter is worn by Tom Hardy. Mad Max: Fury Road could be read as a re-imagining or a sequel, with Max once more alone in his car, driven batshit crazy by memories of those he’s tried and failed to help.
Max is quickly captured by the latest band of crazed zealots, under the cult leadership of King Immortan Joe (played by original Mad Max baddie, Hugh Keays-Byrne). Like many a classic sci-fi villain in a post-apocalyptic world, Immortan Joe is utterly grotesque, obsessed with his familial bloodline and enjoys various kinds of quirky behaviour, such as milking women to drink and bathe in their breast milk (as you do).
This obsession provides Max with a way out of his forced captivity as a “blood bank” for Immortan Joe’s many sickly lesser offspring, when his harem of beautiful, healthy women is freed by Imperiator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Furiosa, once a captive herself, has worked her way up to the trusted position of Imperiator and driver of the encampment’s war rig, before deciding to take her chance to return home to the “green place” she remembers from her childhood, liberating Joe’s “breeders” along the way.
Pursued by Joe and his War Boys, including the rather inept Nux (Nicholas Hoult), the whole thing quickly turns into an exceedingly loud, violent and explosive high-speed car chase that pretty much lasts the entire movie. Like the Mad Max films of the past, Fury Road is low on plot, exposition, narrative structure and dialogue. This is all about landscape, rabidly capering extras, costume design and, of course, vehicles tricked out in every conceivable fashion and flipping, crashing and exploding all over the screen.
It’s like a relentless video-game-mash-up of Grand Theft Auto and The Last of US or an endless death metal music video, an impression helped by the fact that the War Boys travel with one truck loaded with huge kettle drums and another with a guitar-linked deck of around 20 amplifiers.
But there are a few incongruous moments that pull you back from the fantasy a bit. A two-hour running time is about half an hour too long for this kind of movie.
Oh, and the scene where Max rounds a corner to come upon the bevy of beautiful breeders for the first time, gathered around a giant water hose, washing in a most salaciously suggestive manner in the skimpiest of garments, is unintentionally quite hilarious. Or perhaps it was intentional, as Max’s face is quite a picture.
Finally, I couldn’t help thinking that for a society that’s low on gasoline, water and bullets, everyone seemed as keen as mustard to waste as much as possible of each one. Firing live weapons at fuel tankers they hoped to capture, throwing water over themselves when they barely have enough to drink and punctuating their rage with random machine gun fire into the sky.
However, if you can suspend your disbelief, if you loved the old films, or if you can buy into two whole hours of this high-octane assault on the senses, you’ll probably love it. ®
Director George Miller
Cast Courtney Eaton, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Charlize Theron
Release date 14 May (UK/US)
More info Movie website