George Miller, Action, 120 mins, Jun 20
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Hugh Keays-Byrne
The odds were heavily stacked against Mad Max: Fury Road becoming a halfdecent movie; for one thing, re-launching a franchise after a long wait rarely brings about much aside from disappointment (Star Wars prequels) or indifference (Terminator Salvation). Secondly, the returning visionary director has spent the past two decades making children’s movies. Lastly, the project has been floating around the Hollywood ether for ages now, with Mel Gibson set to reprise his role in the early 2000s, then talks of an animated movie snuck into the conversation, before the original trailer burst on to the scene and blew everybody’s mind.
But for all the apprehensions one may have, Fury Road is awesome. Whereas the Fast and Furious franchise has become wacky (they still have respites full of sentimentality and bottles of Corona), Mad Max is wall-to-wall insanity. Apart from mechanical arms and sandstorms worthy of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, all of the stunts are “real” and the lack of CGI really puts some weight behind everything. You can almost smell the exhaust fumes as the cars grind into gear, every punch lands with a satisfyingly painful thud, flames lick the screen and you can all but feel their heat. No matter how convincing or sophisticated CGI becomes, it will never have the power to immerse an audience like Fury Road does.
Stunts aside, the story is silly but engaging thanks to an amazing cast. Tom Hardy’s Max is more stoic than mad, but a believable badass whose vulnerability makes him a character worth investing in, even if his Australian accent is a little shaky. Hugh Keays-Byrne is almost absurdly terrifying, and the female cast are outstanding; especially Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, who absolutely steals the show and not only stands equal with Max, but shows him a thing or two along the way.
There is no real lull in the action, and the movie is as taxing as it is enjoyable, so if action isn’t your thing, this will be a chore, but for many, this could well be the favorite blockbuster of the summer.