SYNOPSIS: Filmmaker George Miller gears up for another post-apocalyptic action adventure with "Fury Road," the fourth outing in the "Mad Max" film series. Charlize Theron stars alongside Tom Hardy (Bronson), with Zoe Kravitz, Adelaide Clemens, and Rosie Huntington Whiteley heading up the supporting cast.
Mad Max: Fury Road will relentlessly hammer you into submission. It’s a frenetically paced thriller with some dazzling effects, but in the end, it provides only a thin story and few developed characters. The original Mad Max that made Mel Gibson a star dates back to 1979, so many in the viewing audience would not have even been born yet. The last film in the original trilogy, Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, was 30 years ago, so director George Miller says his current offering is not a sequel, but it kinda, sorta is. Max is still mad and stuck in the same post-apocalyptic wasteland where anarchy reigns, and brutal “tribes”still duke it out over the few remaining resources.
The film opens with Max (Tom Hardy), in voice-over, telling the audience that he used to be a cop (road warrior) fighting for good, but that now he just tries to survive. His “madness” is revealed through hallucinations of his dead family. Unfortunately for him, he’s been captured by the “War Boys”, a tribe of eerily white-tinted, shirtless, tattooed and branded men who seem to be afflicted with some sort of radiation sickness. He’s taken to The Citadel ruled by a vicious warlord, Immortal Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who keeps them in line with promises of a glorious destiny in Valhalla if they live up to his warrior philosophy. If that sounds familiar, it should. It’s a bastardization of Norse mythology, but the War Boys accept it without question and treat Immortal Joe as a god.
I’ll leave the details of Max’s imprisonment and ultimate escape for you to discover if you see the film. Eventually, however, Max joins Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a driver for Immortal Joe, whose job is to drive an enormous truck, jerry-rigged from what appear to be several vehicles, on Fury Road to transport or retrieve whatever the leader desires – usually fuel or water. Furiosa has gone renegade, though, and plans to escape with 5 of Immortal Joe’s wives and return to the land of her birth – the Green Place. Fury Road is so-named because it runs through the territories of various tribes, all perpetually in a state of war, who wield an astonishing array of lethal weapons. All the tribes want The Citadel because it has water – strictly controlled by Immortal Joe. In lieu of that, they’ll take whatever they can get from convoys on the road. Therefore, anyone who drives the road is deemed a warrior.
One of the War Boys, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), ends up with them, and his character is one of the few allowed any development. Hoult does a skillful job with Nux’s transformation from a virtual slave to a true warrior. Theron also does well as Furiosa, and it’s really her story. Basically, the film is one, very long chase. It gets tedious.
Tom Hardy deserves better than he gets with Max. He’s allowed few lines and little opportunity to expand the character. He just seems to be along for the ride, and the ride seems endless. Miller used CGI sparingly, so most of the effects (80%) are created through physical stunts, make-up, and sets. I would admire that tactic if the effects weren’t so repetitive. Really – how long can you watch crazed anarchists storming through a barren desert, killing each other with abandon, and really not achieving anything before you start to squirm in your seat? I’d say about 30 minutes less than the film runs.- JoAnne Hyde