When we last saw former cop turned wasteland warrior Max, it was nearly 30 years ago. Writer/Director George Miller had envisioned a follow up back in 2000, but various factors delayed the film so much that star Mel Gibson believed he had become too old to play the character which opened the door for Tom Hardy to don the knee brace of the famous character.
In “Fury Road”, fans are given a lavish spectacle that is one non-stop ride of intensity that is as my wife put it, “pushing me so far back into my seat that I am almost in the row behind us”.
When Max is captured by a vicious group lead by Immortal Joe, he stumbles into a true hell on earth as Joe has legions of warriors, most of whom have various health issues, it is assumed from the post nuclear world in which they live. They use captured individuals as blood donors to help make the sick live longer and Joe himself controls a large supply of fresh water as well as oversees what he considers his breeding stock of women.
When Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), goes rogue and abducts Joe’s harem, this begins a breakneck and deadly pursuit across the wastelands where Max finds himself literally chained to the front of a car as a blood bag for the driver.
Amidst the eventually carnage that follows, Max is able to free himself and forges an uneasy alliance with Furiosa as she is attempting to lead the women she has liberated from Joe to safety.
With Joe and his large band of followers hot on their heels, Max must once again face overwhelming odds to save the day.
The film does an amazing job of creating an intense visual spectacle as the car chases and combat take up a good half the film and they are absolutely breathtaking to watch. CGI is kept to a minimum and what you see on the screen is a clash of metal as vehicles flip through the air, crash, and explode in spectacular fashion.
The film though is light on details as much of the story is left for you to read between the lines and fill in the blanks. Theron has explained her characters motivations very well in interviews but in the film it is at times murky. The limited dialogue in the film can at times be hard to understand due to accent and a form of “New Speak” but it is Hardy himself who is most interesting. He plays Max as a strong and silent type who is haunted by ghosts of his past, the people he could not save are a constant presence in his life as he sees them in his dreams and when he is awake, this leads to a character who is reduced to little more than pure survival instinct and does not allow for much in the way of character development.
In many ways this is a reintroduction of Max to a new generation so much of the charisma and intensity that was a part of Gibson’s portrayal has been scaled back to a world weary individual who has pretty much given up on finding the better life that he lost many years ago.
Miller has said he has enough material for two more films and if they are in the same league as this one, I would love to see further adventures for Max, let us just hope the wait is not as long next time out.
4 stars out of 5.
Second Review by Sasha Glenn
Twenty years after “Mad Max: Beyond Thunder Dome” the fourth film in the cult classic franchise is finally hitting theaters, but this time around it’s without Mel Gibson.
A “Mad Max” film that doesn’t star Gibson may at first sound like a strange and risky idea but, callous as it may sound, Gibson will hardly be missed. Tom Hardy is able to fall seamlessly into the role without corrupting the integrity of the character.
Director George Miller stays true to his series, while at the same time taking advantage of an astronomically greater budget and twenty-first century production capabilities. The same raw and edgy feel remains intact, but the delivery is graphically stunning. Seeing the film in 3D, one can almost taste the dust of the desert badlands. The result – a kick ass cinematic adrenaline rush.
Nostalgic of the long action scenes of the older films, “Fury Road” mostly consists of a continuous chase scene. The instrumental music by Junkie XL adds to the maddening pace of the plot. The film is a consuming, time warp-like experience. It almost feels as if it could’ve lasted five seconds, five minutes, or five hours, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. The intensity level stays climatic start to finish, making the audience become lost in one epic moment.
Without having to slow down for a second, “Fury Road” maintains a decent amount of depth. Like the other films, it is set in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland. This time it follows Mad Max as he is captured by War Boys and becomes entangled in their high speed chase after Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Furiosa has attempted to flee with the tyrannical overlord’s most prized possessions, his collection of women used as “breeders.” The choice in plot direction is fascinating, as it further explores what could happen to females in this post-apocalyptic scenario.
Once again, Theron delivers a performance that defies the limitations of femininity in Hollywood. She has proven that she is a match for even the most popular male action star. Her facial expression and body form are a fine tuned balance between feminine and masculine, creating the appearance of the war weathered badass that is Furiosa.
Theron’s captivating performance takes the audience through a spectrum of emotions – hope, determination, and despair are just a few of the feelings that her character experiences as she struggles to fight for meaning in a seemingly hopeless reality.
I give “Fury Road” 4.5 out of 5 stars.