Max Rockatansky is an icon of Australian cinema. He’s the character who made actor Mel Gibson a household name, drove the coolest car ever put on film and almost single-handedly placed Australia’s film industry on the world stage. It’s just as well then, that his latest film meets such lofty expectations.
Max, now played by Tom Hardy, is a former policeman who travels the post-apocalyptic Wasteland in his supercharged Interceptor, haunted by the memories of the people he failed to protect. While in the Wasteland, Max and his car are captured by the War Boys, followers of the menacing leader known as Immortan Joe (Hugh “Toecutter” Keays-Byrne).
Joe seems to have complete control over his people, but not all is well – his prized “guzzoline” tanker has been hijacked by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) during a routine supply run, along with his Wives. Frustrated, he sets off in pursuit of Furiosa with a convoy that includes his War Boys, the People Eater (John Howard – no, not the former Prime Minister) and the Bullet Farmer (Richard Carter).
Also along for the chase is Max, who is acting as a “blood bag” for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), Max’s beloved Interceptor (now heavily modified), some dirt-bikers, a cult which drives cars covered in spikes, a rather odd assortment of muscle cars and a red-robed musician playing a guitar which doubles as a flamethrower. Why such a character is necessary in a feature film is irrelevant when one sees how awesome it looks.
The most remarkable aspect about Mad Max: Fury Road is that it exists in the first place. The movie spent 25 years in “development hell” (a term used to describe a project which can’t make production), had to move filming to Namibia due to unprecedented flooding in the Australian outback and then needed to return to Australia for extensive reshoots. Any sane director would have given up in despair, but against all odds George Miller has seen his freaky, awe-inspiring vision come to life.
There’s an insanity to this film that make it endearing, found in everything from the chase sequences to the costumes. Yet beneath the eccentric characters, steampunk motorcades and rather impressive special effects is a pretty straightforward film. The characters aren’t all that complex, there’s very little dialogue and the story is, for the most part, told through visual cues – elements which are rarely, if ever, featured in today’s blockbuster movies.
Granted, these are elements which the Mad Max films have used before. Aside from the special effects and largely-female cast, there’s little to differentiate Fury Road from the movies which came before it – those wanting a well-developed story would be just as happy watching 1979’s Mad Max. But a statement like that undersells how breathtaking the experience is.
Admittedly, I wasn’t overly impressed upon first seeing Fury Road in cinemas, but after my heightened expectations were lowered, I purchased the film on DVD and gave it a second viewing. Suddenly, it became all the more enjoyable. I was left stunned by the practical effects, thrilled by the sandstorm scene, and entertained by everything else on offer. Even Tom Hardy’s hilariously bad Australian accent became loveable.
Now that all the hype has subsided, there’s never been a better time to revisit the awesomeness that is Mad Max: Fury Road. Whether you’re familiar with the Mad Max franchise or not, it’s definitely worth checking out.
This film was previously reviewed for YO Bendigo on May 26th, 2015.