Only the mad survive...
Now THIS is what cinema was made for! Desert landscapes, fast cars, big explosions, and FIRE! Plenty of fire! If you’re a petrol head then you may just wee your pants a little, for Mad Max: Fury Road is 1000hp of pure V12 diesel pleasure. It will literally melt your face off! Director George Miller (who helmed the Mel Gibson originals) may be 70 years old, but he’s no Sunday driver – Mad Max: Fury Road contains more breakneck, high-octane, high-speed, adrenaline-fuelled bonkers automobile mayhem than ten Fast and Furious movies could ever dream of!
The plot is extremely simplistic, but that’s not a negative. Taking its lead from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Fury Road is essentially one long sustained chase sequence. We are first introduced to Max - a tormented man haunted by flashback visions of the violent death of his wife and child. Like Mel Gibson’s original incarnation, Hardy’s Max is a tortured soul of very few words. He has been captured by a crazy tribal outfit known as the War Boys, led by the Bane-like masked Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also played Toecutter in the Mel Gibson original). Max is being used as a ‘blood bag’ - a blood donor - for Immortan Joe’s warriors, and spends much of his time muzzled and strapped up to Nux (played by a magnificent Nicholas Hoult), a young War Boy who believes he is destined to die in battle at the bidding of Immortan Joe. So far, so bonkers!
Immortan Joe is an unsavoury sort – he rules his impenetrable citadel with an iron fist, starving his people of food and water, and has several wives who he deems as his ‘property’. Then Charlize Theron’s Furiosa turns up and the action amps up to 11. Furiosa is a no-nonsense, don’t-give-a-fuck, absolute BADASS! She takes off with Joe’s wives, who then sends a war party after her to retrieve his precious cargo, with Max along for the ride, strapped to the front of Nux’s muscle car. And cue 120 minutes of pure carnage. Just imagine that exciting truck chase sequence from Raiders Of The Lost Ark stretched over a whole movie and you’re pretty close to what Mad Max: Fury Road delivers!
The vehicles are absolutely bonkers – huge big-rig tankers, muscle cars modified with ridiculous exhaust pipes, hot rods covered with spikes, trucks covered with all sorts of random scrap metal, muscle cars with tank treads, monster trucks, it’s absolutely insane! George Miller even throws in 1979 Max’s iconic Interceptor in there too. The standout though is the moshpit pit on wheels - the ‘Doof Wagon’. It’s a huge flatbed truck with the biggest stack of Marshall amps this side of a Metallica gig, and is the vehicle of choice for Coma the Doof Warrior, a zany red onesie-clad fruitcake with a flamethrowing guitar. Just imagine these vehicles hurtling along the desert landscape, leaving trails of diesel smoke in their wake, Miller’s camera weaving in and out of the madness. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, up come the Polecats, who swing about on the ends of elongated poles, between the muscle cars. No CGI (for the most part), no trickery, just real cars and good old fashioned stuntwork. It’s pure bonkers cinema!
The three main actors are outstanding. Tom Hardy is excellent as ever, of course. His performance is subtle and does take a slight backstep to the action, but Max was never really the star of the show in the originals either. He perfectly conveys Max’s need and desperation to care about something again. Nicholas Hoult is superb and will be a talent to watch for in the near future. His manic War Boy Nux is possibly the only character in Fury Road who has an arc, starting off as a lunatic ready to die for Immortan Joe’s promise of Valhalla, and ending as an ally you truly root for. Hoult does a remarkable job of conveying Nux’s mindset amidst the fury of the action. But the standout has to be Charlize Theron. With Furiosa, she has carved out a heroine who’d give Ripley a run for her money! Shaved head, diesel stained face, robotic arm, and attitude. The lack of backstory makes Furiosa all the more appealing and Theron plays on this superbly. She is a joy to watch, and the chemistry between her and Hardy is electric. Mad Max: Fury Road is an instant classic and its characters will be memorable for years to come.
Mad Max: Fury Road is an insane experience. My advice to you would be to get hold of it on 3D Blu-ray and watch it on the biggest screen you can find. And then go lie down in a dark room when it’s over and wait for your brain to unmush itself.