30 years after Mel Gibson walked the walk, George Miller brings Max Rockatansky and his post-apocalyptic playground back to the big-screen, this time with Tom Hardy taking the lead role. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult come along for a non-stop ride of destruction and mayhem.
Director: George Miller
Staring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Holte, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Run Time: 120 Minutes
Release Date: Out Now
For those of us old enough to remember the original Mad Max series, we will always remember Tina Turner’s Beyond Thunderdome classic telling us that we don’t need another hero; Fast-forward to 2015 and we do now have a new hero…but it’s not who you’d expect it to be.
Casting an actor of Tom Hardy’s calibre means that there would never be a concern regarding quality of the performance, no matter how iconic a movie character he was portraying, leaving us the opportunity to simply sit back and enjoy. And thanks to George Miller and 30 years gap between now and Beyond Thunderdome, enjoyment is the chief emotion you will leave this film with.
Let’s make thing clear, this is pretty much a two-hour car chase that Jeremy Clarkson and his now-former Top Gear cohorts would be proud of. However in among the explosions, violent-but-never-bloody deaths, and quite stunning stunt work is a story of hope, togetherness and redemption. Many have tried and failed to tell a story surrounded by action set-pieces and explosions – Mr Bay, I’m looking at you – but there is never any doubt here that Miller would pull it off. Aided superbly by mesmerising practical effects that will leave you open-mouthed in wonderment, Fury Road sucks you in and effortlessly keeps hold of you for as long as it damn well pleases. And you’re not arguing.
Tom Hardy is an excellent choice as Max, bringing not only a physicality to the role but also an at-times silent approach that somehow screams volumes. He is also capable of bringing a weary approach to the character, which fits Max perfectly given what he has to endure in the opening moments of the movie; being chased down in an apocalyptic version of Temple Run, siphoned for blood, strapped to the front of a fast-moving vehicle and put in a Bane-like mask would leave anyone a bit cream-crackered. But while Hardy may be the headline and titular character, Theron excels beyond words – always helpful in a review. There is an understated quality to her work, something that has always been there to see, whatever role she takes on. As Furiosa, leading a group of young brides to the promised land of green and on a mission of redemption, she once again is excellent. Truthfully, it is she that is the hero of this piece, leading a crusade first to freedom, then to peace.
From the moment Max and Furiosa meet, Hardy somewhat surprisingly takes a back seat. Indeed, it takes some time to even hear his voice, and throughout the whole film he finds his lines hard to come by. Theron is definitely the lead of the picture here; it’s rather refreshing to see a film that promotes such a strong feminist backbone and story that doesn’t feel like it’s shoehorned in by a studio executive trying to win brownie points with the female demographic. In a rather strange twist, it’s the women working to bring mankind back to prominence, and Max is happy to stand alongside them in their fight. Their relationship is not one that usually ends in romance – another male/female inevitability. They start as enemies and through a common goal and rival, a mutual respect grows.
Outside of the main two, praise must also go to the assembled supporting cast. In particular, Nicholas Hoult is wonderful as the conflicted Nux, who in some ways is the heart of the movie. It’s not an easy task to organically gain sympathy for a villain of the piece, but Hoult plays the part with such verve and dedication, he achieves it with room to spare. The scene in which he finally gets the chance to carry out his God’s work is both hilarious and depressing in equal measures. It is his story that is the most complex, but the ease in which it is played out by both the actor’s sterling work and the excellent writing is extremely admirable.
Admirable also are the designs seen in both clothing and sets; the cars are something, once again, Clarkson and the boys would be proud of, while the level of detail that has gone into the outfits is exemplary. Nothing looks out of place and fits right into the post-apocalyptic world that this battle takes place in. Special mention also to the simply insane guitarist strapped to the front of a lorry playing a guitar that shoots fireballs.
It is a credit to Miller that this seems right at home.
Bringing a franchise back to the big-screen 30 years after it was last seen should have been difficult. But for George Miller, and his 3500 storyboards, 480 hours worth of footage, unbelievably crazy set piece designers and stunt team, and his wanton love for throwing uncountable amounts of metal around, this feels like a walk in the park. Fury Road, it may be, but you will be hard-pressed to find anyone who won’t want to take a second trip down it at some point again in the future.
Just don’t make us wait another 30 years.