“In this wasteland I am the one who runs from both the living and the dead. A man reduced to a single instinct…survive,” thinks Max (Tom Hardy). Max is a lone wolf, on the run and trying to escape from his captors – devout followers of a warlord who’s convinced many he’s a living God and their only hope for survival in this post-apocalyptic world – in director George Miller’s reboot of the Mad Max franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road.
Still haunted by the senseless, brutal murder of his wife and child, Max roams the desolate roads of the Australian wastelands with no real purpose or goal other than to survive. Although he’s eluded the outlaw gangs for year, he’s unfortunately captured and taken prisoner by gas raiders who use his healthy, pure blood a little at a time to strengthen weakened, diseased bodies. These raiders are loyal followers of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a warlord who controls the gas and the water in his desert mountain kingdom. Never giving up on a chance to escape, Max gets an opportunity when he’s strapped to the front of a car by Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a weak but devoted disciple of Joe’s who has joined the hunt to go after Furiosa (Charlize Theron), another gas raider who has used the guise of a gas run to help Immortan’s most prized possessions – his young, beautiful brides – to escape.
Max is helpless during most of the furious and relentless chase, but he finally finds himself free and decides to make an uneasy alliance with Furiosa who’s trying to take the young women back to her homeland called The Green Place. Together, Max, Furiosa, and the young beauties travel the hot desert trying to stay ahead of Nux, Immortan Joe, his steadfast followers, and desert pirates in hopes of finding a new home and some form of redemption for themselves.
Chaotic and fierce, Mad Max: Fury Road is an almost never-ending rollercoaster ride of high speed car and truck chases, explosions, shouting, shootings, and crashes. It’s a worthy and weird addition to the Mad Max franchise having more in common and reminiscent of the first sequel The Road Warrior than the original 1979 Mad Max film.
Tom Hardy is a solid replacement for Mel Gibson as Max, the once tough cop and loving family man driven to borderline insanity and who’s become a loner after the horrific murder of his family. He conveys a strong ruggedness while also showing glimmers of his wounded soul. The one element missing is Max’s moments of detached madness during exhilarating fight scenes, which Gibson conveyed wonderfully in the original two films through his facial expressions and eyes.
Charlize Theron delivers the best performance in the film as Furiosa, a scarred, physically damaged and haunted woman whose fight to free the young slave brides in the hopes of giving them a free and better life gives her character a shot at redemption and a chance to finally go home. Furiosa is by far the most human and multi-layered character in a film full of one dimensional characters. She is the soul of the movie.
The almost non-stop action scenes are outstanding and exhilarating, with stuntmen jumping from racing cars, trucks, and motorcycles, hanging from hoods and on tops of cars and trucks, and multiple crashes. It’s reminiscent of the great fast-paced action films of the 1980s. Mad Max: Fury Road is also beautifully filmed, with orange, deep red and blue tones capturing the blistering heat of the desert, apocalyptic sandstorms, and the calm and almost peaceful night life of the desert. It’s visually breathtaking.
Relentless, wild, and crazy, Mad Max: Fury Road is an exhausting moviegoing experience and one of the better over-the-top, mindless action films to come along in the last few years.
MPAA rating: R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Running time: 120 minutes
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