When Hollywood revisits blockbuster franchises from decades before, the mileage can vary. Often, there are releases that we like to pretend never happened – Indiana Jones is, and always has been, a trilogy.
Mad Max has spent the past 30 years roaming Hollywood’s wasteland. Luckily for us, it is eager to make up for lost time.
Replacing Mel Gibson in the iconic role is Tom Hardy. Max is a lone wolf, attempting to outrun gangs that roam the wasteland, as well as the ghosts of his past. A global catastrophe has made oil, water and bullets scarce, though you wouldn’t think it at times, and everything, including people, is a commodity.
The action kicks off immediately and is relentless over the next two hours. Max is captured and taken to the Citadel, which is ruled by Immortan Joe, played by Mad Max veteran Hugh Keays-Byrne. He who controls water in this town, controls the people.
In just a few short scenes, we are introduced to the world in great detail. We see the stark contast between the haves – who consume mother’s milk to counteract radiation – and the have nots – who gather in the hope of collecting drops of water released by Joe; the aggression and fanaticism of Joe’s war boys; and the plight that prisoners such as Max, or ‘blood bag’ as he is called by the war boys, face.
While the film may bear the name Mad Max, it seems that this movie isn’t really about him. Perhaps that’s because Charlize Theron, as Joe’s primary operation runner Imperator Furiosa, steals the show. Initially tasked with raiding a nearby town for gasoline, she instead attempts to smuggle Joe’s wives and baby makers to safety.
Of course, her plan is soon discovered and so begins a lengthy and explosive chase scene. Joe’s hordes of war boys, along with two other towns, take chase in their motorised weapons of war. It’s a post-apocalyptic Fast and Furious at times, complete with vehicular combat, firefights, and a heavy metal guitarist strapped onto a platform at the front of a truck.
Yes, it is exactly as mental as it sounds. And it works fantastically well. The action will leave you on the edge of your seat and it’s also used as a story-telling device. There isn’t much in the way of dialogue. Perhaps that’s just as well as Hardy’s accent drifts throughout the film. Perhaps that’s a by-product of wandering the wasteland or maybe it’s because he never has the chance to settle into a steady rhythm.
But character development and interactions are often told without words. Max and Furiosa don’t exactly see eye-to-eye initially, but soon learn, thanks to the chasing hordes, that they’ll have to depend on one another. Sometimes, they say a lot without saying anything – look out for a scene involving a sniper rifle, in particular. Even humour is often delivered with little more than a grunt, or via visual means alone.
While the wasteland is sparse, director George Miller does a lot with it. It is as much a central character as the humans at times. It throws deadly weather storms at the convoy, and attempts to throw a spanner in the works with challenging conditions for the various vehicles to overcome.
Mad Max is an audio and visual treat. The weather storms are as stunning as they are terrifying, the wasteland has moments of serene beauty, and the soundtrack is an eclectic mix that will keep your adrenaline pumping throughout.
The plot isn’t exactly surprising, but there are some interesting twists and turns along the way. The most important thing is that Mad Max is incredibly good fun. The action is intense, everything looks incredible, and it’s got a heart-thumping soundtrack to boot. Mad Max is a must watch for action lovers everywhere.