Of all the four major franchise resurrections this year – this also includes Star Wars Episode VII, Terminator: Genisys and Jurassic World for anyone not paying attention – Mad Max: Fury Road has looked like a sure bet, ever since its wild first trailer took a match to the internet. The trick when meddling with movie nostalgia to continue a beloved property is that to make it work you have to make a much bigger and more bombastic film than the source material, because our tiny brains have spent years remembering it as way, way better than it was. A recent re-watching of the series reveals that Mad Max is fun but ages badly and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is best left unspoken of. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior however, still fucking rules and is the film that this is spiritually closest to.
Mad Max: Fury Road takes the overall essence of that film and pumps it up to dizzying new levels. If Mad Max was a cupcake, Mad Max: Fury Road is an eight-layered wedding cake that stretches over two tables. With a gigantic 2015 blockbuster-sized budget, director George Miller’s bleak future world is finally fully realised and it’s an immersive experience. His post-apocalyptic desert setting hosts an outrageous, destructive ballet that sets a new benchmark for hardcore stunt work and throws down the gauntlet for modern films to return to a lesser reliance on CGI. Bless him.
The basic premise is, well, basic. After all this is essentially a movie about punk rock cars. Mad Max (Tom Hardy) is on the run from some crazy white-painted dudes called The War Boys, led by a super creepy overlord called Immortan Joe. Max somehow ends up in the same truck as Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who is defecting from Joe’s clan and taking a number of his prize wives with her. From there on it’s essentially a non-stop chase movie with dirt, blood and petrol splattering the screen in equal bursts.
Our only gripe is that while Tom Hardy is all brooding, muscular and very believable as the tortured anti-hero, there’s one thing he is not: charismatic. For the most part the only thing his character clearly communicates is that he is A) in a hurry and B) doesn’t wanna be there. But hey, that’s okay – Charlize Theron is quite the one-armed bad arse. We guess the title Furiosa With A Hint of Mad Max wouldn’t have drawn quite the same crowd.
With a dash of humour or even some general banter – the film is deadpan serious – this could have been an instant classic. As it stands it’s 2015’s must-see action movie, rather than the decade’s. This is not something that’s gonna translate on your iPad in six months’ time so it’s well worth diving into your local cinema. Mad Max: Fury Road might not be perfect but it’s the kind of filmmaking we need a lot more of and with any luck the inevitable sequel is where Miller is going to do his best work, now he’s once again comfortable in the driver’s seat.
Check out the Mad Max: Fury Road vehicle showcase that took over Sydney’s Circular Quay.