Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Who knew a nuclear-holocaust could be so much fun! Miller’s fourth installment of the series is an intense blockbuster that instates Tom Hardy as the new Max Rockatansky. A true thrill ride. 

Now in its fourth installment, George Miller thrusts us into the apocalypse again as Max’s post-Thunderdome wanderings have led to his capture by the War Boys in Immortan Joe’s Citadel.

The vampiric, masked, resource hungry Joe, sends his prime Lieutenant Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) on a mission for gasoline. A proceeding chase occurs when Joe realizes Furiosa has made an escape  with Joe’s five-wives (whom he uses to breed war boys). Taken on the chase, Max is a designated universal blood donor, ‘blood bag’, for war boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Max’s escape attempts lead him to team up with Furiosa and Nux to end the resource controlling leaders reign.

A cast that boasts Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, and Rosie Huntington-Whitley, as well as an ensemble of over one-hundred-and-fifty stunt actors – it is a truly giant affair. While the emphasis on story is low, the £150 million budget places emphasis on the stunts, pyrotechnics, and aesthetic – the story still peels through no matter how basic it is.

Besides the aesthetic, the score bounds into you as the chase intensifies, you haven’t know anything like it. As Joe’s house-band score the chase, guitar riffs and drums below through the engine roar and gun fire. The atmosphere is intense, the stunts unreal, it is a truly unique watch that propels you back to the wasteland. As the drums ramp up so does the heart-rate, this is the road movie to end all road movies – nothing can beat the thrill of steam-punk rigs, masked villains, and moving action. What a way for Miller to spend his seventieth year!

The star of the show is evidently Hoult, his portrayal of Nux is moving, emotional, and believable. The troubled war boy was bred to fight, conveying an aura of resilience – Max’s escape is as much about Nux’s battle for a better life. Never has Hoult played such a raw, emotionally charged role. Nux is the every-man of the apocalypse, the clear loser of the nuclear-holocaust.

While Hardy looks the part, his role is dialogue light meaning that he struggles to steal the show. While this is no complaint, Miller clearly intended for his protagonist to share the limelight with new characters who help fill the apocalyptic wasteland with their own unique personalities. Talk of Furiosa leading the charge in a sequel would be fitting due to her presence as a second protagonist, Miller may be planning to expand the universe past the beloved Max.

Metaphorically the film comments on the resource monopoly. Joe, as leader of the citadel, controls water access, ‘My friends, do not become addicted to water. It will take hold of you and you will  come to resent its absence’, Joe exclaims in the opening sequence, he is the clear winner in this nuclear wasteland. The film also heavily conveys Viking imagery with Joe’s promise to his war boys that upon death they will find home in Valhalla  – Odin’s house of the dead – as well as the brooding Viking costume aesthetic, mixed with Miller’s trademark steam-punk overtones.

Mad Max: Fury Road clearly has faults: its limited dialogue, basic story, and half-formed supporting characters (Joe and The Wives) – but damn is it fun! What Fury Road loses in its storytelling, it gains in its intensity. Putting yourself in the director’s shoes, it is clear Miller wanted to propel us right back into the wasteland after the thirty year hiatus and boy did he succeed. With Mad Max 5 in the pipeline, Miller has teased fans by saying ‘we’re definitely in discussion about making more of these, but the timing of it, I’m really not sure’. Don’t leave us hanging George!

8/10

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