Remakes usually land with a thud but George Miller’s ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is a high-octane action thriller from a filmmaker at the top of his craft. It’s been about 30 years since the original ‘Mad Max’ films made Mel Gibson an international star. Now Tom Hardy (Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) takes the driver’s seat as Max Rockatansky, the ex-cop that is haunted by those he could not save in his past. “So I exist in this wasteland, hunted by scavengers,” he mumbles before the film launches you into the first action sequence. Hardy is perfectly cast in the lead role. The screenplay which Miller penned with Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris uses minimal dialogue and remarkable visuals to tell the story. You don’t want to miss the best popcorn film of 2015 (it’s that good).
From the film’s opening, Miller propels us into a post-apocalyptic world. From the cinematography of John Seale to the drum-pounding score of Junkie XL, this twisted future is full of violence and freaks of nature. The frame rate is amped up to add even more insanity to the mayhem. It’s a barren dystopia scorched by the sun with yellow desert going on and on for miles. Precious resources such as water and oil are controlled by the evil warlord, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Bryne) who was the Toecutter in the original film. He dispenses water to the people from the cliffs of his kingdom. He harvests children and milk from his harem of wives and rules his chalkfaced War Boys with an iron fist.
The real surprise and hero of ‘Fury Road’ is the female warrior with a mechanical prosthetic arm named Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). She’s a real badass and one of Joe’s most trusted deputies. Furiosa is tasked to drive the War Rig from Joe’s citadel stronghold to the oil refinery Gastown. When she deviates off course, Joe sends his War Boy soldiers, including Nux (Nicholas Hoult) after his precious cargo. Max is chained to the front of Nux’s vehicle. It turns out that Furiosa has smuggled Joe’s “breeders,” women he attempts to impregnate in the hopes of creating a male heir to the throne. Joe’s harem of super-model wives includes Splendid (Rosie-Huntington-Whitely), Toast (Zoe Kravitz), Fragile (Courtney Eaton), Capable (Riley Keough) and The Dag (a terrific Abbey Lee). Furiosa is taking them to “the green place” to safety.
This is clearly one of Theron’s best performances. Her character Furiosa actually drives the plot more than Max. Her motivation is a mixture of advancing the revolution and finding personal redemption. It’s a time-honored goal of many male protagonists but a refreshing change from a heroine’s point of view. Furiosa is one of the strongest female action heroes since Ripley in ‘Alien.’ You really get the sense of female empowerment when Joe’s wives express their disdain for being treated like sex slaves. The women with the help of Max are relentlessly being chased by the bad guys through the desert wasteland. The action sequences never get boring. Without a doubt, it is some of the most thrilling stunt work captured on film. Cars flipping, bodies flying and bullets whizzing by will keep audiences completely satisfied. Miller uses brilliant overhead shots similar to a classic John Ford Western. It keeps the viewer engrossed in the action.
Miller has created a world where desperate men follow crazy leaders and women play a key role in the survival of humanity. This talented director also sets the bar for the next wave of action filmmakers. It’s possible to create an action movie that is not only a pleasure to watch but one that brings home a powerful message about our responsibility to the planet and future generations. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ proves once again that a dash of estrogen can never hurt the male-dominated action movie landscape. Check out the official trailer https://youtu.be/YWNWi-ZWL3c.