The fourth film in the Australian dystopian franchise which began in 1979, and once again directed by George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road is the first film in the franchise in 30 years, which sees Tom Hardy replace Mel Gibson as “Mad” Max Rockatansky. Set in a future desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities and where humanity is broken, Max joins forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland, as they flee from cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his army in an armoured tanker truck, leading to an explosive road battle.
Fury Road plays homage to the great car chase films of the 70’s and 80’s but is revved up with so much exhilarating force that it leaves the thought of them trailing far behind. Think back to the original Mad Max films and to classics such as Death Race 2000, and that’s what you’ll get… but with much bigger engines, so much fire that you’ll feel the heat, and a truck-load more madness.
Fury Road takes everything to the next level. It’s one of the grimmest dystopian films that you’ll have seen in a long time, one of the most thrilling car chases ever, and is filled with so much demolition and big action sequences that you’ll need to take a minute to slow your heart rate down after watching it.
The whole cast is truly impressive, too. Tom Hardy is cast excellently as Max, and you can never go wrong with having the beautiful Charlize Theron in a supporting lead. But the rest of the support is fantastic, too. Nicholas Hoult gives a stand-out performance and, collectively, their energetic performances give the film a great amount of charisma and momentum.
Most audiences have come away truly mind-blown, giving this film a five-star rating, though I have also read about a number of viewers walking out of the cinema halfway through. I’d certainly recommend that you sit through it, however. There were times at the start where I thought parts of the setting were a little too grotesque and I felt uncomfortable at times with how different the film felt to the rest of the franchise, but by the end, I was certainly a huge fan of it.
My only notable flaw comes from questioning where the film sits in the timeline of the franchise as a whole. Supposedly Miller, who wrote and directed all four films, wrote this latest one without that answer in mind, and, unfortunately, you can tell. Released 30 years after Miller’s original trilogy, it’s hard to tell if this latest instalment is set before, during, or after the other films, or whether it’s just set on its own without any regard to the rest of the franchise. For fans of the Mad Max films, the answer isn’t necessarily needed. But for those not familiar with the original films may question what it’s all about.
A dystopian film like this needs a bit of setting and without knowing why this futuristic world is in the state it is, there’s a certain loss of impact. The characters, as well, aren’t put in their place well enough without being told their pasts. Again, if you’ve seen at least one of the Mad Max films then none of this matters. But as a stand-alone film, I feel that it could have bettered itself with some added context, if only to set Max’s character up as a more prominent figure.
My second question is: where the hell has George Miller been? Fury Road is an impressive piece of work, and although he directed the first three Mad Max films, the only notable films in his filmography since then are Babe: Pig in The City, and Happy Feet 1 & 2… Well, now you’ve given us Fury Road, Miller, we’ll be expecting more from you!