Running time: 120 minutes
Director: George Miller
In 1985 the last installment in the Mad Max trilogy, Thunderdome, was released. But, though 30 years later, George Miller is sitting again in the director’s chair for the sequel, Mel Gibson is not. Taking his place as the face of the franchise is Tom Hardy. Sadly, Mad Max: Fury Road seems to be following the steps of last year’s Edge of Tomorrow. A great action movie that everyone loves, has huge word of mouth but for some reason, no-one goes to the cinema to watch. This and given how much the movie cost to make, makes very unlikely that the studio will greenlight a sequel, at least with the same budget.
In an apocalyptic future where all the landscape has become desert and water and gasoline are precious elements, the prisoner Max (Tom Hardy) finds himself tied to the front of a car as the “blood-bag” of Nux (Nicholas Hoult) when Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) discovers that Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) has gone rogue and has stolen something very dear to him and is planning to cross the harsh wasteland to return to her homeland.
I am one of those weird people who never saw the Mad Max trilogy so I can’t say if this movie is better or how much justice does Tom Hardy do to the character that made Mel Gibson a star in 1979. I can only say, he was great. He doesn’t have much dialogue but he manages to portray a lot just through body language. And if it is funny to see Tom Hardy wearing again a mask and talking weird like in his iconic role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, as his companion Nux, we have Nicholas Hoult hiding once more behind a lot of make-up just as he did in the X-Men movies as Beast and in Warm Bodies.
As for the film and given the trailers, I was expecting a non-stop action movie and that is partly what Mad Max is, but I was delightfully surprise that it is also an homage to the power and independence of women. This is mainly because even though Max is the title character, and Tom Hardy is fantastic, this is really Furiosa’s movie and Charlize Theron, with the guide of George Miller, has given us one of the best action heroes in years. Furiosa’s ferocity and determination never overshadows her tenderness and it is great not only seeing women fighting together but also fighting for each other. The five wives could have easily been mere damsels in distress but each one played an active role in trying to regain their freedom, with fierceness and yes, also a lot of glamour.
But the true star of Mad Max: Fury Road is actually behind the camera. George Miller, at 70 and after so many delays in the production of the film, has made a spectacle using mostly practical effects. The design of the world and the characters is so grotesque that it becomes in some twisted way quite beautiful.
Really, the best word to describe Mad Max is insane. The characters are crazy, the action is crazy, even the story in itself. The action is chaotic but unlike many other action movies (I’m looking at you, Michael Bay), you can always tell what is going on. This is a great advantage since the movie is basically a big relentless action sequence and therefore, doesn’t have too much character development or even plot. There is some narrative here and there when the action stops that comes across a bit cheap and feels too much like exposition. However, and even though other things could have had more explanation, in the end Mad Max doesn’t really need any of that to be an exhilarating film.