Monday 11 May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road review

Mad Max: Fury Road (15/R, 120 mins)
Director: George Miller
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

There have been reasons to be cheerful and reasons to be fearful regarding the release of Mad Max: Fury Road. On the one hand George Miller, director of the original trilogy of Mel Gibson movies, returns at the helm, and we know he knows how to shoot action.

But cameras started rolling on this reboot over three years ago, and that’s rarely a good sign, with potential release dates coming and going. Yet hopes were raised when the footage started to surface, until earlier this when we were granted quite simply the greatest movie trailer ever unleashed on the public, a fast and furious tease that promised us an action assault like no other.

For once the trailer wasn’t lying; in fact, it doesn’t begin to do justice to the finished film, a kinetic cinema experience probably unseen since Gravity. Taking place in a properly and completely demented world, it’s essentially a two hour chase, and there has quite simply never been anything like it.

Fury Road is not remotely a Mad Max remake, more a continuation of the universe, with backstory swiftly dealt with in an opening voiceover. We’re filled in on the apocalypse and on Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), the one-time cop whose family was murdered, sending him into a spiral of madness and barely surviving in the wasteland that is now Australia.

Chased through the desert by goons, Max is taken prisoner to a cliff-side community run by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played villain Toecutter in the original Mad Max). Fuel was the driving force of the original movies, but the writers seem to have finally realised that water is more precious than oil, and the Immortan rations out the water as a way of keeping the people in check.

Charlize Theron is Imperator Furiosa (look at these character names!), a lieutenant of the Immortan who defies him and goes on the run with his wives in hope of finding the Green Place. With Max in tow, first as a prisoner and then a helper, what follows is not a series of action set pieces held together by a threadbare plot, it’s one action set piece that spans almost the entire course of the movie.

This is filmmaking to melt the eyeballs, packed to bursting with breathtaking stunt work and imagery and rapid, bruising fights. With Max, Furiosa and others driving a tanker, and the Immortan and his hordes chasing in heavily armoured cars, the carnage unleashed as people and vehicles leap and tumble every which way is enough to make you marvel at how they could have achieved it. And it’s CGI-augmented rather than CGI-driven, so even though once in a while you can see the join, it’s there to enhance the spectacle.

The pounding score propels the chase along, some of it provided by the Immortan’s own band, with one of his trucks loaded up with drums and a flame-spitting guitar. It’s exhilarating and insane and in constant motion, with maybe two points where they stop long enough to have a conversation and for the audience to remember to breathe.

If there's a sticking point, it's that Max is barely a character; he's a figurehead, a recognised name to hang the film on. This isn’t a world of heroes though, it’s survival that’s the only imperative, and with his growls and grunts and handful of words, Hardy makes him as enigmatic and dangerous as he needs to be. Theron is immense too, with Furiosa every bit as capable as Max and in many ways the real hero.

Also it could be argued that the best action is used up before the climactic melee, where the level drops slightly from astonishing to just very good. But that’s a small complaint, and if the world belongs to the mad as the film’s marketing suggests, then prepare to go crazy for this world of blood and sand.


  1. Thanks, hoping to catch it this weekend in Malaysia

  2. This movie is 98% action, 2% dialogue. Very entertaining.