Wednesday, 20 May 2015


A film like MAD MAX: FURY ROAD only comes around once in a generation.  Emerging from the summer action-movie wasteland, a chromium beacon on the hazy horizon.  More than a decade in the making, FURY ROAD is the fourth film in Aussie director George Miller’s loosely-connected post-apocalyptic series starring Mel Gibson.  Tom Hardy replaces Gibson as the titular road warrior, but Miller is back in the saddle, armed with the intensity of a man who has something to prove.
Half sequel, half remake FURY ROAD finds Max running-and-gunning from the merciless clutches of a deformed warlord and his army of brain-washed speed-demons.  No time is wasted setting up the story.  Good Samaritan Max, forever trying to outrun his past, finds himself riding shotgun to Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa.  She’s one of the warlord’s top generals, an Amazonian amputee with nerves of steel.  When Max and Furiosa cross paths, and butt heads, she’s in the middle of leading a clandestine jail-break of the warlord’s harem.  Half-a-dozen women, sex-slaves, two with child.  Minimal exposition is activated by maximal mayhem.  A chain-reaction of turbo-charged set-pieces explode onto the screen as the warlord and his zealot freak-show attempt to run them down.

With a devotion to nuts-and-bolts filmmaking it’s impossible to tell where the special effects begin and end.  It’s a stunt spectacular full of sound and fury… but signifying something.  Buttressing the twisted metal, body shrapnel and exploding gear-heads is a rapturous scorched-earth parable fueled by rabid religious fanaticism and revolting polygamous patriarchy.

As if propulsive filmmaking techniques and compelling gender politics wasn’t enough, a motley rogues gallery fills out the post-apocalyptic hellscape.  Hardy is Max (the archetypal, cross-cultural wanderer) in a performance that is essentially silent.  Hardy is upstaged by Theron’s Furiosa, the action-heroine heir apparent to Ellen Ripley (ALIEN) and Sarah Connor (THE TERMINATOR).  A ferocious hand-to-hand fight sequence between the two deftly reveals character through action.

Miller’s greatest accolades are for a children’s movie about a talking pig.  Here he opens up the throttle and throws down the gauntlet.  The septuagenarian orchestrates action with all the inspiration, ambition and swinging-dick confidence of a filmmaker half his age.  He’s conducted a master class in vehicular choreography, kinesis and destruction.  Henceforth, every action director worth a damn will have the singular spectre of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD looming large in their rear-view.

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