Hardy turns it up to the Max

Lennox Herald - - TULLOCHAN -

Mad Max: Fury Road (15) Thirty-six years have passed since Mel Gibson made only his sec­ond big-screen ap­pear­ance as a venge­ful Aus­tralian po­lice­man in Mad Max.

Two se­quels – pack­ing in ev­ery­thing from mo­hawks and “feral kids” to Tina Turner – fol­lowed and now, three decades on from the anti-hero’s trip Be­yond Thun­der­dome, new lead Tom Hardy takes over in the driv­ing seat.

But it’s not all change as first tril­ogy direc­tor Ge­orge Miller re­turns be­hind the cam­era with the new-look Max once again at­tempt­ing to ne­go­ti­ate his way across bar­ren desert lands in a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world.

You’ll do well to see a more bonkers flick this year – but what a thrill ride Miller serves up from first minute to last.

Play­ing out like one long chase scene, it’s wall-to-wall ac­tion with ma­jes­tic scope and won­der­fully wacky images that will stay burned into your brain for a good while af­ter­wards.

Set in the year 2060, Miller and his ef­fects team cre­ate a breath­tak­ing scorched land brought to life us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of muted whites and greys and vol­canic or­anges.

Aussie Miller penned the script with in­ex­pe­ri­enced writ­ers Bren­dan McCarthy and Nick Lathouris and while this fran­chise re­boot has enough of a rea­son for Max and Co to get from point A to B – some crazi­ness in­volv­ing an an­gelic-like group of women called the Five Wives – the fo­cus is on stunts ahead of story.

Luck­ily, Hardy is up for the phys­i­cal chal­lenge as Max is put through the ringer (“out here ev­ery­thing hurts”) and from eat­ing lizards to leap­ing to and from ve­hi­cles, Max lives up to his open­ing line of nar­ra­tion – “my world is fire and blood”.

And Miller has an eye for in­ven­tive set pieces – an ex­treme sand­storm, beau­ti­fully shot moon­light and mud se­quence – and turn­ing what could be run of the mill hand-to-hand com­bat into some­thing more; wit­ness a three­way fight in­volv­ing both sexes with two of the par­tic­i­pants chained to­gether.

The direc­tor also gives the fe­male mem­bers of his cast equal sto­ry­line billing and screen time, led by Char­l­ize Theron’s crew-cut and metal­lic arm-sport­ing bad-a** war­rior Fu­riosa.

A barely recog­nis­able Ni­cholas Hoult (Nux) is a de­light as an al­le­giance-switch­ing hench­man and vet­eran In­dian-Aus­tralian Hugh Keays-Byrne – who played “Toe­cut­ter” in the first Mad Max – makes for a ghast­ly­look­ing, men­ac­ing tyran­ni­cal fas­cist leader, King Im­mor­tan Joe.

Miller barely gives the au­di­ence a chance to pause for breath and a won­der­ful cli­max full of acts of hero­ism and sat­is­fy­ing char­ac­ter res­o­lu­tions sees Max’s ve­hic­u­lar “rig” be­come like a cas­tle un­der siege.

Mo­tor­ing, manic and mon­strous – in a good way – Fury Road is an ex­hil­a­rat­ing res­ur­rec­tion of a fran­chise many thought was dead.

It’s an un­re­lent­ing, rip-roar­ing first part of Miller’s new tril­ogy jour­ney that de­serves to be seen on as big a screen as pos­si­ble.

Fran­tic fury Hardy fights for his life in a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic land

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