D: George Miller / 120m
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, John Howard, Richard Carter
Captured by men under the command of Outback warlord Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne), Max Rockatansky (Hardy) is held prisoner in the Citadel, Joe’s fortress hideout. When one of Joe’s lieutenants, Imperator Furiosa (Theron), helps five of Joe’s “brides” escape, Joe sends everyone after her, including Nux (Hoult), a war boy with little experience and who’s been given Max as a “blood bag”. Forced to take Max with him in the pursuit, Nux catches up to Furiosa, who is driving a large petrol tanker. He and some of the other war boys attempt to stop Furiosa, but are unsuccessful. And in the melee, Max – who was chained to the front of Nux’s vehicle – frees himself and joins the fleeing women.
Quickly earning their trust, and still being pursued by Immortan Joe, Max learns that they are heading for the “Green Place”, where Furiosa was born; there they will be safe and able to live freely. Joe succeeds in catching up to them and in their efforts to elude him, one of the brides is killed. They manage to get away from him and further along the way, they meet up with a band of women called the Vuvalini. The women plan to carry on across a vast salt flat but with no guarantee that they’ll reach the other side alive. Instead, Max convinces them to go back the way they came, through Joe’s forces, and take the Citadel from him while it’s undefended.
Let’s get the superlatives out of the way, shall we? Thrilling, exciting, stirring, incredible, jaw-dropping, amazing, breathtaking, magnificent, gripping, mind-blowing, superb… the list goes on and on. Thirty years on from the frankly disappointing Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985), George Miller has returned to the barren future world inhabited by Max Rockatansky, and he’s come up with one of the best action movies you’ll see for some time to come. Mad Max: Fury Road is simply stunning, from John Seale’s exquisite cinematography, to Jason Ballantine and Margaret Sixel’s impressive editing techniques, to Jenny Beavan’s wonderfully expressive costume design, the movie has all this and more going for it, and in a year with so many action thrillers coming our way, will prove very hard to beat.
It’s a major triumph for Miller, hewing to a simple formula: don’t let up on the pace and don’t let up on the mayhem. There are some astonishing stunts performed in this movie, and they leave the viewer open mouthed in admiration for the various stunt teams who put all this together, and also for the sensational vehicles that have been designed and created (and endlessly destroyed). The cast are impressive as well, and if Theron steals the movie it’s mainly because Miller has amped up Max’s taciturn nature and made him more of a physical presence than an intellectual one. But everyone’s a winner, not least the audience, and this is one movie that deserves every plaudit coming its way.
Rating: 9/10 – with not an animated penguin in sight, George Miller returns to doing what he’s always done best: providing the kind of over-the-top, automobile anarchy that has the viewer watching with undisguised awe; filmed with undeniable passion – and with a lovely nod to Peter Weir’s The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) – Mad Max: Fury Road is a cause for joy and exultation, and is possibly the only time a fourth movie in a franchise has proven to be the best of the series.