Mad Max is a pop culture icon that’s popular for being an incredible maniac, and he’s back from the dead in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. The incredible, versatile Tom Hardy takes on the lead role as Max Rockantasky, and Charlize Theron takes on the supporting role of Furiosa. This particular adventure again takes place in the dangerous post-apocalyptic desert landscape where humanity only exists in a dictionary. Max, a man with a scarred past and a talent for survival, gets tangled in the plan of Furiosa, a fierce woman looking to make it back to her childhood homeland. They are both chased by Immortan Joe, a dictator that’s both physically and mentally disgusting.
Miller has painted a film with insanity, and it’s a beautiful masterpiece of scrap-metal action. His script is a stand-alone piece, introducing the modern world to Max without repeating any direct storylines from the previous films. It’s a tight script with tense scenes that have purpose, always moving the story viciously forward. At times, the dialogue is heartfelt to allow the audience to catch its breath. The slang is also inventive, and even oddly poetic, as someone recalls bullets being referred to as “anti-seeds.”
It was reported that 80% of the effects in the film are practical, and boy are they bold. This film sparingly uses CGI to amazing effects. At times, it’s like watching a gritty, bloody, metal version of Cirque De Soleil. It does something inventive in one scene, and then tops it in the next with ease. This film actually lives up to its description of having non-stop action; it’s almost like a two hour rollercoaster ride. It’s also action that counts because the characters are developed enough that you care about what they do. For viewers going in having never watched any Mad Max films, the character of Mad Max might not be as fleshed out. With the use of flashbacks and fine acting from Hardy, it’s not too difficult to fill in the gaps, but if you’re yearning for more backstory, see the first installment.
Now, there will be those that say no one can do Mad Max better than Mel Gibson because he is Mad Max; however, director George Miller created the character and his world, and Tom Hardy does a fantastic job in portraying the road warrior. Hardy plays Max as a pure survivor, a beast that is certainly troubled by a crazed mind. He hallucinates and suffers from night terrors that increase his talent for survival and mayhem. Max speaks through his mannerisms for half the film, only using a few words when needed, holding back from getting himself attached to anything. Eventually he opens up a bit more, and we see the humanity behind the weathered, fearsome look; a glimpse of the man before he went mad. He hilariously shrugs some things off, but we also see the pain in his eyes that keeps him alive, yet partially dead. Hardy owns the role in his own way with his subdued confidence.
Charlize Theron does a wonderful job playing Immortan Furiosa, a Moses-like leader trying to save Immortan Joe’s wives from Immortan Joe and reach the green place, her homeland. Theron is amazingly badass, and gives the world of cinema another woman warrior in the same vein as Ripley. She’s a fierce leader with a robotic arm that’s ready for just about anything when the shit hits the fan.
There are other notable characters in the film, such as Nicholas Hoult’s character, Nux, who starts off as a dedicated war boy for Immortan Joe. Nux is a somewhat pathetic character that finds himself amongst the chaos of battle on fury road. There are also the beautiful wives that collectively portray a lifeline for humanity to continue. In addition, there are the colorfully disgusting gang leaders that infect the desert, including Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also plays Toecutter in the first Mad Max flick.
All these characters clash for a lovely day of hellish battles on fury road, centered around a heavily armored tanker truck. The meat of the movie is amazing; although, when the ending arrived, it somewhat felt too clean. The world of Mad Max should have a grittier dirtier ending; however, it didn’t take much away from the film.
This latest installment in the Mad Max series is both brilliant and bombastic. It doesn’t stop, and it’s essentially one long chase scene of insane craziness. At the heart of Mad Max: Fury Road, is a film that shows a group of misfits trying to find hope in hell. Hands down, this is the film to beat for Summer 2015.