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.
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.