So, welcome to the ultimate road movie; a full-on ‘guzzolene’ fuel-injected adrenalin rush from scene one.
If action movies are your thing then the rebooted, reinvented Mad Max franchise will be your choice of luxury sports car for the year – move over Fast and Furious, you’re positively pedestrian in comparison.
Original director George Miller has sensibly decided to reimagine the original 1979 model Max rather than go for a straight remake and it’s a decision that pays off because it gives him the opportunity to explore that most topical of themes – religious fanaticism.
Once again, the action is set in a pseudo post-apocalyptic desert land where Max (Tom Hardy taking on the Mel Gibson role) is an ex-police officer, haunted by the deaths of his family, and concentrating solely on survival. His chances of staying alive seem pretty slim when he is captured by the War Boys, mutant offspring of War Daddy Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the tyrant ruler of the Citadel and leader of a cult that promises his sons will reach Valhalla if they die for the cause.
Max ends up as a blood donor for sick War Boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult) who decides he is going all out for a glorious death when the Citadel’s best driver, Furiosa (Charlize Theron) absconds with Joe’s huge War Rig – a gas-guzzling mega tanker. Nux sets off in hot pursuit, hooked up to Max via a transfusion tube and suddenly Max seizes the chance to make his escape in the ensuing road carnage and confusion.
Make no mistake, this is a car crash of epic proportions – it’s actually a series of car crashes, smashes, explosions and wrecks that last nearly the full length of the film and it all looks stunning. The stunts are stupendous, the cars a glorious mix of pimped hardware and scavenged rubbish and the desert a red-hued backdrop to it all. It smells of petrol-chemicals, it looks like it hasn’t had a wash in years and is as hot as hell.
The story is as straight as the road itself with no real sub-plots or twists but the lack of nuance or complexity actually works in the film’s favour because it means all you have to concentrate on is the non-stop, unrelenting action. All the leads prove adept at conveying emotion through their expressions rather than language (dialogue is pared to the bone) and even if it would have been nice to have had more of the main protagonists’ back stories, the action proves so all-encompassing it kind of sweeps everything up in its wake.
The ending is left open enough for the almost inevitable sequel (surely they can’t just make the one?) and that’s a movie that can’t come soon enough because this potent mix of grungey action proves almost as addictive as the characters’ need for speed.