Director- George Miller
Starring- Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Nicholas Hoult
UK Cinema release May 15th 2015
FURY ROAD is probably the most relevant and appropriate title to this return to the MAD MAX franchise, as it ‘s a relentless, frenetic and at times crazed action road movie that recalls some of the bizarre and brutal energy of the first two films, and some of the outlandish design of the third and somewhat flawed third entry, BEYOND THE THUNDERDOME, and comes across as one of the most deranged big blockbuster films to gain a major release, that at the end of the day still wears some of its Ozsploitaiton credentials clearly on its sleeve, made famous by its low budget original.
The film kicks into high gear straight away with Max Rockatansky (Hardy) looking out across the desert. Max is a lone survivor, whose wife and child were victims of the marauding outlaw gangs in the post apocalyptic world, where oil and bullets are scarce. It’s not long into this opening scene that Max is hunted down and captured by a group of scavengers, known as the war boys, who are the followers of Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne). Joe rules the citadel, and controls the water supply to the starving oppressed populace, and even strangely farms supplies of milk from imprisoned pregnant women.
Yet at the same time a rebellious member in one of his ranks, Imperator Furiosa (Theron) is escaping from the citadel with a group of scantily clad-women, who are seen as Joe’s “Wives” though merely used to breed him children. Furiosa plans on returning back to her childhood home, the “green “ place as it’s known, and it’s not long before Max reluctantly joins in with the escaping convoy, and they soon find themselves being relentlessly pursued by Joe, his army of war boys, and other roaming clans.
Kicking straight into the action from the first frame, there seems to be minimal dialogue in FURY ROAD, which is beneficial as the first act establishes the world of the citadel and pushes us into the relentless chase that consists of this opening section of the film, and ends not long after a stunning scene where the chase enters a gigantic sand and thunderstorm, that gives the viewer a chance to catch their breath. Much of the film consists of action throughout and it’s a credit to Miller that he has managed to create some of the most stunningly visual and amazing action scenes, that come close to the relentless none stop chaos of the THE RAID films, except without the graphic violence of course. But that doesn’t mean that FURY ROAD lessens out on the violence and it’s good to see that the film has gone for a 15, albeit a strong 15 certificate, rather than giving into pressure and asking for a 12A which has been the let down of many a recent action film as of late. Added to some of the superb stunt work, the second and most important element of the film is the costume and prop design which is simply superb.
Whether it be the garish and horrible mask and suit design of Joe, or the odd albino looking war boys, all bald headed and coated in what looks like white paint or could just be the pale white colour of their skin, the film contains some amazing work combined with the collection of vehicles in the war convoy, that are both outlandish and over the top, such as the convoy who seem to be the musical marching band of the war boys army, with drummers banging relentless tribal beats and a man at the front of the truck, chained up and deranged, playing a flame throwing guitar and churning out a non-stop heavy metal riff that accompanies the ensuing carnage.
There’s also a nice reference to the Peter Weir film THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS as a group of vehicles that join in the pursuit sport similar looking car mounted spikes from that film. As Max, Hardy manages carry the film well. Given little dialogue mainly a series of brief lines, he may lose the menace and anger of Gibson’s Max, but he somehow makes up for it with a strong bulky action lead, and at least portrays Max as someone who is a wanderer in this world, and very much focused on one thing, his own survival, and no one else’s, displaying little if no emotion throughout the first half of the film but only slightly developing this towards the end.
It’s a testament to Hardy that he is now becoming one of the go to actors to portray these significant roles, with Bane (the best thing about DARK KNIGHT RISES) under his belt and soon to be portraying both the Kray twins in the upcoming LEGEND. Though credit should go to both Theron, who I had doubts about in being cast for this film, but who is superb as the one armed and tough as nails Furiosa, adding an emotional depth into the few scenes of calm and quiet that punctuate the action, and to Keays-Byrne, as Immortan Joe, a relentless and grotesque villain and it’s great to see the original actor who played the Toecutter from the original film back as a more uglier and extravagant bad guy. On top of this and rounding off the significant main player is a nice role from Hoult, as Nox, one of the war boys who initially starts off as a sycophantic follower of Joe, but soon starts to ally himself with the rebels quest.
In the end this is a great return to form for Miller, as the last MAD MAX film, BEYOND THUNDERDOME, was the least well received of the series, and the one that was originally co-directed by Miller, but seemed to a be a bit of a mess in the long run. It’s been a long time coming and since its announcement it’s a film that I for one have been eagerly anticipating and in the end it does not disappointment. It’s also a testament to Miller, whose last two movies have been the animated kids films HAPPY FEET, that he has returned to the series that made his name and delivered a grand scale epic action road movie, with overtones of the original films manic Ozploitation influence, and overall influence from that period of film, and certain flicks that graced that period, such as ROAD GAMES and FAIR GAME where the car was used as more of a character and weapon in the film and at the age of 71 he has created an excellent, frenzied, bizarre and superbly designed apocalyptic chase movie that contains some of the most breathtaking and fantastic action sequences that will put most of the current crop of blockbusters to shame.