Written by J.T. Johnson
The master has returned and he has made his masterpiece! Director George Miller, the master of the post-apocalyptic thriller has returned to the world of Mad Max 30 years after the release of “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” in 1985. However, this film is a juiced up, non-stop, in-your-face spiritual successor to 1981’s “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior”.
The new movie sees Max (Tom Hardy) as nothing more than a survivor with no real attachments. Right away, Max is captured by the War Boys and taken to the Citadel, a post-apocalypse city ran by the ruthless Immorten Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Max is made the “blood bag” of Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a character who is recovering from recent injuries.
Meanwhile, Joe has sent out Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in her armored War Rig to collect gasoline. However, what she has really done is kidnapped Joe’s Five Wives in order to free them and bring them to her former home known as the Green Place. However, Joe sends the War Boys to go get her and the chase is on. Nux wants to be a part of the action and therefore, he has to bring his blood bag Max along.
Eventually, Max escapes and finds himself helping Furiosa and the Five Wives escape from Joe and his army of vehicles. For the next two hours, the chase never stops except for a few breathers here and there. The thing that makes Miller’s crazy films work is that they are not just post-apocalyptic films.
These are Post-Apocalyptic Westerns, with Max being Miller’s Man with No Name. Max never sets out to help anyone, but his inner goodness always comes through as he chooses to help those in need. Also like the Dollars Trilogy, longtime fans of the series should treat this film as a revisiting and not a direct continuation or sequel or prequel to the other films. Like the movies before it, it is to be treated as a film in its own right.
And oh, what a lovely film it is. First off, how is Hardy in the role originated by Mel Gibson? He’s very good actually. In fact, we get to see more of the mad part of Max than we ever really did in Gibson’s films. He has visions of his dead daughter urging him to frantically carry on. It reminds people that this guy is actually an unstable survivor, but a survivor nonetheless.
Like previous films in the series, the characters Max finds himself with are just as important as the lead. In this case, the true standouts are Furiosa and Nux. Theron uses what little story she has about her character and makes Furiosa a three dimensional soul with guilt and redemption on her mind. She also proves that she’s just as tough as Max as they form their uneasy alliance.
Hoult is insane as Nux, but soon finds himself on the side of Furiosa and the Five Wives. Hoult is perfect as the troubled Nux, a man who thought he was fit only to serve and die for Joe, but finds his own inner strength. But, while Max has his allies, he has a few good villains to boot, including Immortan Joe.
To Mad Max fans, Hugh Keays-Byrne may sound familiar. Miller used Keays-Byrne in the first “Mad Max” film where he played that film’s main antagonist, Toecutter. Here, with a gnarly looking face breather, he invents a whole new form of evil for the apocalyptic Outback. Establishing that he only allows a little bit of water for his people, uses some women to produce milk and others to breed, you quickly know that this guy is bad news. He is definitely a worthy addition to the Mad Max rogues gallery.
Finally, there is the action… The never-ending explosion of action! This is one of the few movies where the filmmakers and the advertising told you exactly what you were getting. The chase sequences go on and on throughout a desert storm (the only place with a heavy use of digital effects), murky swamps and finally a climactic battle through the desert.
The early films were noted for their excellent and impactful use of practical effects. Miller did not forget where he came from and the effects in here are amazing. This is one stunt team that definitely deserves a standing ovation. It is a beautiful symphony of destruction all the way through and it may take your heart a little time to settle down afterwards.
The only problem you might have with this film is the barrage of action if you’re not necessarily an action junkie. I am and therefore, I was completely satisfied when I left the theater. With great performances and fantastic practical action sequences, this movie should go down as the best film in the Mad Max series!