Can Tom Hardy replace Mel Gibson as the titular Mad Max in this latest installment of the apocalyptic film franchise that returns after a thirty year absence?
This movie has been a very long time coming. Director George Miller was going to start shooting the movie for Twentieth Century Fox back in 2001. Since then the project has changed to an animated 3D film before changing back into a live action piece.
Principle photography was due to take place at a location known as Broken Hill Hiillin Australia where the previous three were shot but unexpected heavy rains, the first in fifteen years, turned the desert landscape green with wild flowers.
Filming was moved to South Africa and was completed in 120 days back in 2012. Over the years there were stories of reshoots and delays. It was rumoured that the film was a mess and Warner Bros. were worried. Combined with a release date that was forever being pushed back, it wasn’t looking good for Max Max.
The last release date given was 2015, but as that time loomed nearer there was little sign of marketing material. The first photo of Tom Hardy as Mad Max was what seemed to be a signed Polaroid used possibly for continuity purposes.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2014, at the San Diego Comic Con that Warner Bros unveiled several minutes of footage that was also released onto the internet in an edited shorter format.
The movie looked packed with intense action and every trailer released thereafter only whetted our appetites even more. So was it worth the wait?
This movie is simply brilliant, I’m still feeling a buzz and it’s been almost two hours since it finished.
The ruler of a citadel, Immortan Joe, has sunk pipes deep into the wasteland and now controls a vast supply of fresh water which he names ‘Aqua-Cola’. He uses this leverage to rule of the poor people of the citadel who have nothing.
He has a personal army of men known as the Warboys who are too weak for personal hand to hand combat but know there way around machinery and weapons. They believe that dying in battle will lead them to the gates of Valhalla to receive their reward in the afterlife.
Immortan Joe’s prized possession is that of five beautiful young women. They are his personal breeding slaves and he hopes that one day, one of them will provide him with a fit and healthy male heir.
We meet a female, Imperator Furiosa, who is taking a normal scheduled delivery run in the War Rig, an armoured fuel tanker, to go and pick up gasoline. Halfway through the run she diverts and takes the vehicle off road and away from the pickup point. Immortan Joe realises what has happened and checks on his breeding girls only to discover them gone.
Imperator Furiosa has smuggled the girls onto the War Rig and is driving to something only referred to as ‘the green place’ where they can be free.
Of course Max becomes a part of this escape through no fault of his own and ends up helping them on their journey.
Like many of my other reviews I’ll stop there as not to spoil anymore of the film, but I think it’s safe to say that’s all the plot there is! The plot is simply a device to allow director George Millar a two hour chase movie and it’s certainly that in spades.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the film is the amazing visuals. This is like no other post-apocalyptic film you’ve seen before. The design of the environment, the vehicles, everything is unique. You’ll notice everyday items, battered and worn, used in many different and creative ways.
The vehicles of the film are almost separate characters in themselves as everyone is unique and different.
The main star of the film, mechanically, is the War Rig, an armoured petrol tanker, with sections of VW Beetles bolted on to use as look out posts. Spikes have been fitted to every corner to stop people jumping aboard. It looks great but truth be told it’s the tamest vehicle on show.
There’s a car that’s been retro fitted with caterpillar tracks enabling it to transverse any terrain. Another vehicle is covered in spikes like an exaggerated crazy hedgehog.
One of my personal favorites is a vehicle that serves just to keep up morale within the troops. On the back are four drummers, each with their own single drum to create a pounding bass rhythm which whenever it makes an appearance on screen, syncs up with the films soundtrack. The front of the truck contains a multitude of speakers in which front hangs a crazed guitar player. Did I mention that the guitar is also a flame thrower?
So what do you do with a great collection of well-designed vehicles? You throw them together in some of the most intense action the big screen has seen in years. But don’t worry, the film does contain several breathing spaces that allow plot points to be revealed and to give your eyes and ears a rest.
It’s been well documented that the stunts in this film are almost entirely practical and this makes such a refreshing change from the usual onslaught of summer blockbuster films filled to the brim with computer imagery, ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ I’m looking at you!
What also helps is the excellent direction from George Miller who has shot this film so well that all of the action is clear and easy to understand. There’s no ‘shaky-cam’ or Michael Bay style fast editing in this film.
But what about the human element of the film? Well that is truly won by Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. This is her action movie in terms of screen time and none of it is wasted.
That doesn’t mean Max is left out though. Tom Hardy for me easily filled the shoes left by Mel Gibson and stayed true to character throughout. Max rarely talks but you’ll find his actions often speak louder than words.
British actor Nicholas Hoult deserves a mention for his portrayal as Nux, a war boy who believes he is doing the right thing but after a spell with Max and Furiosa learns that he may be on the wrong team.
So if you haven’t gathered by now, I loved this film. I wanted to watch it again straight after leaving the cinema. Will who saw it with me wasn’t so sure. If you want to read his review, click here.