In 1979, Australian director George Miller brought the now iconic post-apocalyptic road warrior to life with the film Mad Max. While the first one didn’t breed initial success, it made enough to warrant a sequel, one that became even more iconic and well known, Mad Max: The Road Warrior (1981). Even though this became a successful 80s action franchise, it was respectfully put to bed in 1985, without a peep of another sequel until Comic Con in 2014, when it was announced that the titular character was getting a reboot/sequel. It did warrant some skepticism, however it was confirmed that the sequel was gonna have franchise creator George Miller at the helm and Tom Hardy taking over the role of Max Rockatansky from Mel Gibson, along with Charlize Theron joining the cast. Despite not having touched the series for over 30 years, many fans were ecstatic to see another chapter in this post apocalyptic world from the Happy Feet (2006) director.
With resources plummeting along with an increasingly unsettled society, Max Rockatansky (played by Tom Hardy), a former peace keeper, has no real motive but survival. He is quickly captured by the warboys of the warlord known as Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keys-Byrne). After his capture, events are set in motion by Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron) to find a safe haven for her and the many enslaved wives of Immortan Joe. To which Max is forced to work with Furiosa in order to survive and maybe find some hope in a desolate wasteland.
I have to say, this film truly shines in its VFX department! Most studios give us unforgettable CGI heavy action films such as the Star Wars sequel trilogy. But Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) takes a Christopher Nolan approach by keeping the FXs as practical as possible. There is evidence of some CGI, but those are more touch ups rather than entire set pieces. You just have to look at the custom vehicles made for this shoot particularly, it feels like none of them should truly function at all, and yet they are able to be driven around as if you were cruising down a highway. The best example of this is the flamethrower guitar used as a battle cry during a cartel chase scene. As the guitarist riffs a few notes, the guitar shoots flames out of its end. Many would believe this to be fake but it’s real, 100% real. No CGI was used for that prop, which is astonishing!
With practical effects, comes stunt work and the stunts are nothing but jaw dropping. From these extreme car chases to the polecats flying back and forth on the back of midsize sedans, there is truly nothing less creative. There was literally one scene where a motorcyclist slides underneath the tanker of a semi and grabs Furiosa by the legs, now that is perfect coordination right there. And can we just imagine how much fun these fight scenes must’ve been, everyone is either getting beaten senseless or being thrown from a moving vehicle, just wow!
The story and characters are as strong as the action. What with characters like Max and Furiosa not needing much fanfare or dialogue to let us know how tough they are. They even went toe-to-toe with each other, Furiosa only had one arm and still almost managed to beat him. But this is Furiosa’s story more so than it is Max as he is just our proxy in the movie, following along with the audience rather than knowing everything. With most of the story taking place in moving vehicles, there is little to no time to breathe as they try to find safe haven. Throughout the story as well are themes of hope, which are most abundant when the gang is about to drive across a long stretch of desert to find shelter only to be convinced to turn back and take Immortan Joe’s stronghold. Since it would have all the supplies necessary to survive for years.
This is a film that exceeded expectations in every way imaginable. If you saw this in theaters, your jaw was on the floor in complete shock at the unabashed insanity. What I found most surprising was the amount of heart in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), giving so much hope to find a safe place but also how brutal some of these characters would be to get there. Charlize Theron owns the screen as Furiosa, so much so that a spinoff is in development starring Anya Taylor-Joy as a younger version of the character. We came for Max and heart-stopping action; we left feeling more hopeful than before along with an over-indulged adrenaline gland.