Film review: Mad Max

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Immense praise has to have been thrown the way of filmmaker George Miller for this glorious re-imagining of his ‘pet’ project – but that’s tempered with the argument that it won’t ‘float everyone’s boat’, writes Gavin Miller.

And there’s definitely not a boat to be seen in Miller’s arid post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland – where almost everyone is crazy, fighting for the necessities of life such as water, food and gas.

Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) has replaced Mel Gibson (in the role that brought the Aussie to Hollywood prominence in three films from the 1979 original) as nomadic action man ‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky – still haunted by the death of his wife and daughter – who begrudgingly teams up with strong-willed Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to try and reach the safe haven of her homeland.

But they’ve got the leader of the nearby Citadel, Immortal Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who actually played ‘Toecutter’ in the first film), and his convoy of destructive bandit vehicles on their tail, after Furiosa fled with his multiple wives – including Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) and Zoe Kravitz (The Divergent Series) – to escape his greed and tyranny.

Aided by Nicholas Hoult’s (X-Men: Days of Future Past) Nux – a member of a fanatical horde of mechanics known as the ‘War Boys’ – Max, Furiosa and co must not only outrun Joe and his gang, but tackle the many killer elements that exist across this stark desert landscape, including deadly storms that will literally burn you alive.

And that’s pretty much it with this remake, as this action-adventure pans out as almost one long action sequence that shows off sensationally stylised production values – which fans of Mad Max should lap up.

But here’s the caveat: this is all well and good if this is your bag – but not everyone will enjoy this one continuous road the film travels on.

There’s only so many times massive trucks can try and blow each other off the tracks – even though this is done in a gritty realistic way far superior to Michael Bay films – before the explosions get a little samey, and ultimately quite exhausting.

Also the movie has very little dialogue, and doesn’t actually showcase Hardy’s talents as well as co-stars Hoult, and particularly Theron, who is arguably the most prominent character – so much so that it could have easily been called Furiosa: Fury Road as she steals the show. In fact, it’s her performance that stops it short of being called a ‘lads’ movie’ – as her enigmatic turn definitely adds a hefty helping of ‘girl power’.

Ultimately, you can see why it’s getting a lot of buzz from major critic circles due to its faithful and visually spectacular recreation of the source material – the guitar playing ‘Wild Boy’ is just one impressive nod to that – but if this isn’t your thing, you might not quite get what all the fuss is about.

But fortunately the heart and soul put into the film by Miller and everyone involved – which helps Fury Road ‘grow’ during its duration – makes it one of the most courageous movies of the summer that is trying so hard (maybe too hard) to launch a new franchise.

This endeavour alone makes it well worth venturing into the wasteland for a thrill-ride that (for right or wrong) doesn’t let up from start to finish – as Max gives you plenty of bang for your buck.

Rating: 3/5