The original Mad Max movies are classics. They made Mel Gibson famous (though I try not to hold that against them). But what they're probably most famous for is the rather long chase scene at the end of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. In this scene Max drives a truck hauling a giant tanker full of fuel through the Australian desert, attempting to escape a maniacal gang clad in hard-core bondage. It is one of the (if not the) most famous chase scenes in the history of film and George Miller clearly knows when he is on to something good. Mad Max: Fury Road is essentially a two hour chase scene with the occasional break so that the protagonists can have a quick drink and recuperate.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic Australia where water and fuel are scarce. A crazy cult has arisen led by the incredibly gross Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who was also the lead villain in Mad Max 1), who has built a fortress in a mountain in which he hordes the local water supply and keeps his army of War Boys and his 5 young wives (including Zoë Kravitz and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). Imperator Furiosa (played by the awesome Charlize Theron) tries to free his young wives by sneaking them away in a fuel truck. Meanwhile, Max (now played by Tom Hardy) has been captured by the War Boys and is being used as a blood bag for War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult). When Nux tries to help re-capture Furiosa, Max manages to escape and ends up helping Furiosa and the wives in their bid for freedom. And so begins one of the longest and most awesome chase scenes in film history.
Fury Road is visually stunning. It is a film which focuses entirely on the visuals and gives little importance to the script. I watched an interview with George Miller in which he said he didn't write a script for Fury Road, but rather created a graphic-novel -style storyboard and left a lot of the dialogue up to the actors. Hardy himself has very few lines in the film. But that doesn’t matter because there's so much to see!
As Furiosa drives her giant armoured truck through the desert, she is chased by dozens of dune buggies, covered in spikes and skulls. In order to try to re-capture the wives, the War Boys thrust giant sticks out of their vehicles into the air with men clasped to the top who are thrown towards the truck. There is literally a giant vehicle whose only purpose is to convey a man perpetually playing electric guitar and his giant amps alongside the chase.
There is a breath-taking scene in which Furiosa enters a sandstorm in order to evade her pursuers. Lighting flashes through the storm and changes the colours from sand-red to electric blue. Vehicles are thrown into the air and torn apart by hurricanes. It's one of the coolest things I have seen in a film for a long time and I must admit, I found myself wishing I was watching the movie in 3D (even with the extortionate prices).
Turning to the characters, Hardy and Theron are both incredibly cool leads. Both actors have a great amount of presence in whatever role they take on and they make a good team here. You could say that, even though this is a Mad Max film, Furiosa gets more attention and certainly, with her robot arm, she was the more interesting character. Immortan Joe is ridiculously repulsive and makes for quite a scary bad-guy. Hoult is very likeable and entertaining as redeemed War Boy, Nux.
There has been some criticism however of the portrayal of Joe's young wives and I can't say they're given very empowering roles. We first see them hosing each other down in the desert wearing nothing but thin strips of white fabric. They aren't exactly stereotypical damsels in distress but nor do they really add much to the film or provide much assistance to Max and Furiosa.
All in all, I'd say this is my favourite Mad Max film. Admittedly I have not seen Beyond Thunderdome yet but I highly doubt it beats The Road Warrior or Fury Road.
This summer looks like it's going to be a good one for epic blockbusters. Jurassic World isn't far away, there's another Terminator movie on the horizon (although I have some doubts about that one) and the next Marvel Universe movie, Ant-Man is due out on 17 July.