Title: Mad Max:Fury Road
Director: George Miller
Major Players: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
Out Of Five: 4.5
Over the past ten years, the fourth Mad Max film has been on and off more times than I’ve had hot dinners. But I kept eating and George Miller kept trying and at long last the film’s landed on the big screen. Has it been worth the wait? You bet!
It’s exactly 30 years since Mad Max:Beyond Thunderdome – Tina Turner wearing those giant slinkies – but little has changed. We’re still in the never ending desert that followed the world’s collapse, but we have a new Max in the beefy shape of Tom Hardy. Haunted by personal loss and wandering alone through all that sand, he gets involved with a group of rebels, led by Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who are being pursued by War Lord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne wearing a hideous mask-come-breathing apparatus) and his War Boys. The rebels have stolen something valuable belonging to the Immortan, Furiosa is trying to find her way back to The Green Place and so the chase begins ….
And that’s what it is – a chase movie. One with definite overtones of the old fashioned western, with the Indians in pursuit of the stagecoach across the plain – except this time it’s a vicious desert. The horses have been replaced by outlandish vehicles which are clearly been based on monster trucks, all ginormous tyres, ramped up suspensions and super-charged engines. Except that, in this case, they’ve been created from old, clapped out motors – a real testament to the ingenuity of people to re-create and re-use when civilisation has been wiped out. And it says a lot about the creativity of Miller and his team as well. Just look at the mask Max has to wear for a large chunk of the film. The portion over his face is an old garden fork!
It’s a world gone mad and there’s some joyously crazy elements to the chase. Immortan Joe’s truck is laden with a group of drummers, rather like the Japanese Kodo drummers – and, attached to the front, clad in bright red, is a solo guitarist, playing heavy rock. It’s bonkers – and it’s glorious. Then there’s the War Boys on bendy poles, rather like a vaulter’s pole, which bend from side to side so they can attack Furiosa’s War Rig. Miller called them Polecats and they’re one of the most striking and memorable images in the film.
I’ve talked mainly about the men but, in truth, the film isn’t really about them, not even Max, even if he is supposed to be the eponymous hero. This is Furiosa’s film and, indeed, it belongs to the rest of the women in it as well. They’re all strong characters, even the cluster of glamorous ones, and more than capable of fighting alongside the men without a second thought. Action film makers take note. Miller has done away with the token female superheroes of Marvel and the pitifully underdrawn women that were always the weak point of the Batman films. It shows that an action film with a woman at the helm can be done. And how!
This is two hours of in-your-face action, a sustained assault on your visual senses – and your hearing as well. What dialogue there is gives you the chance to take a breather in between that relentless, exhausting action. It is, not surprisingly, in 3-D but the press screening I attended wasn’t – and I didn’t miss it in the slightest. In fact, you get such a fast, imaginative battering that I doubt 3-D would have made any difference at all.
Mad Max:Fury Road is a juggernaut, the mother of all action films, but with something extra. It’s intelligent and, more significantly, it’s potentially the start of a new trend in action movies, one that brings women to the fore. In the most unashamedly outrageous way, it’s not so much mad as completely off its rocker!
Mad Max:Fury Road is released in UK cinemas today.