Beyond Thunderdome In Mad Max: Fury Road
In a post-nuclear war Australia, some men try to hold power by any means necessary - and those means tend to be ruthless. Max Rockatansky has been enslaved by one such leader in Mad Max: Fury Road. Tom Hardy steps into the role made famous by Mel Gibson as Max finds himself held captive by a tribe who values Max for his blood. The leader is Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who rules by fear. Among his allies are a group of white-colored followers known as the War Boys. A War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult) had been very ill until he received a steady supply of Max's blood. One day, Joe sends Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) with a convoy to get more fuel for their community. Instead, she takes a detour in plain sight of Joe. He another convoy follow that includes Nux with Max still attached. Furiosa leads her convoy into a dust storm that disables many vehicles, including the one with Max and Nux.
The pair are knocked unconscious, but Max awakens to find Furiosa working on the truck. He frees himself from Nux and tries to steal it, but discovers that Furiosa has enabled kill switches on the rig. They're not alone, as Furiosa has brought five of Joe's wives with her as part of a two-part escape plan. First, she plans to sell fuel to a nearby biker clan. With the proceeds, Furiosa plans to take herself and the wives to a Green Place Furiosa knew as a girl before being kidnapped by Joe. The bikers call off the deal when they see that Joe's on the way, and his convoy soon catches up to the rig. Nux, now conscious, helps Joe by boading the rig to kill Furiosa. That plan fails when one of the wives protects Furiosa, but falls to her death in the chaos that follows. The now guilt-ridden Nux decides to help Max and the women by booby trapping the road. When they arrive at the location Furiosa thought her Green Place had been, they find only a few women and barren terrain. Meanwhile, Max has an idea of where to find a real green place, but needs help getting them there.
Mad Max: Fury Road marks the first entry in the Mad Max franchise since Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985. George Miller, involved with the franchise since its 1979 inception, returns as director and as a co-writer. The story is simple, but the action and the character behavior might make some wonder what they're witnessing. Miller certainly isn't trying to glamorize a world where so much is dead or dying. The survivors, though, tend to act with a gladiator-like mentality. The living may realize the alternative, but they will fight to the death for the little that they have. Joe, for all his tyranny, at least knows some people will be needed to regrow the population and provide care to those already there. His method of maintaining these needs, though, is force, whch he and his War Boys provide. The action and the visuals help to punctuate Miller's vision of a hellscape of what's probably left of the earth following an apocalyptic event. The cinematograpy of John Seale shows the contrast between the beauty one might see at first glimpse and the reality of the people who live there.
The four key actors deliver in action roles. Hardy continues to be haunted by those he could not save, yet his captivity gives him a chance to save others. He may be an unwilling participant in the survival of Nux, but he probably would have done it were he asked. His initial contact with Furiosa and Joe's wives was an unfriendly one, but he soon sees they have a goal in common. Theron is cautious, yet decisive, as Furiosa, who sees a gas run as a way for herself and others to distance them from the deranged Joe. She also knows she has power in Joe's land, since she provides an essential service there. She has also decided she'd rather die than continue to live under his rule, and shows she's a warrior comparable to most of the men. Hoult does fine work making a change from a War Boy to a war man. Keays-Byrne, who also portrayed Max's nemesis Toecutter in the first Mad Max movie, shows his power and his insanity as Joe, who does as little as he needs to make sure his subjects have subsistence. Among the wives are Zoe Kravitz (from the Divergent movies) and Riley Keough, whose grandparents are Elvis and Priscilla Presley.
Mad Max: Fury Road shows the kind of living that might happen after the world unleashes nuclear arms on one another. Civilzation has all but died, with criminals taking control of anything near them. Mad Max and Imperator Furiosa want to change that for whoever they can help. They know that all is not lost as long as humanity has a way to deal with the inhumanity around them.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Mad Max: Fury Road 3.5 stars. A film of sound and fury.