MAD MAX: FURY ROAD REVIEW (Australia/USA/15A/120mins)

Directed by George Miller. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravit, Riley Keough, Nathan Jones, Hughs Keays-Byrne, Megan Gale, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Josh Helman.

THE PLOT: For ex-cop turned post-apocalyptic road warrior Max Rockatansky (Hardy), it’s still the end of the world, but not quite as we know it from before. Most of it is familiar – the sunburnt desert scapes, the vamped up, customised vehicles constantly engaged in battle over fuel, glorious fuel, and the designer gimps who drive them. Hitting the ground running, literally, Max is captured by a white-bodypainted tribe who worship their ancient, half-decrepit old leader, Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne), a cross between Jabba The Hut and L. Ron Hubbard. Joe keeps his tribe happy with promises of everlasting life in Valhalla, whilst the great unwashed down below are kept in line by rousing speeches followed by bursts of precious water.

When Joe’s beautiful young breeders (Huntington-Whiteley, Kravitz, etc) are whisked away by Imperator Furiosa, he soon has a rabid, high-speed convoy hot on the traitor’s tail. Amongst them, our hero, Max, the ailing Joe worshipper Nux (Hoult) having not yet finished their little blood transfusion.

And so, to battle, in the great wide open, where loose cars and fast women are the supreme prize…


THE VERDICT: With a script that I’m convinced was ghost-written by my Grand Theft Auto-loving young nephew Thomas, Fury Road might as well have been called The Fast & The Fraggle Rock. Bigger, brighter, bolder and decidedly more bonkers than the previous three outings – including the last, 1985’s bombastic Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – creator and writer/director/producer George Miller unleashes a Bosch-esque hell-on-wheels for this deliriously twisted thrill-ride.

With the man behind Babe 2: Pig In The City and the deceptively-titled Happy Feet at the helm, there was always going to be something troubled and tortured just beneath the shiny, multiplex-baiting surface here. An endless number of unsuspecting kids ended up with a stutter after the bleak Babe 2, whilst the Happy Feet franchise can be summed up in one telling image – namely, a despondent penguin banging his head against a zoo enclosure wall. Sweet dreams, children.

Here, the underlying message is all about man’s inhumanity to women. Especially when they’re hot (the girls here constantly look like they’re on a Pirelli calender shoot). Beyond Hardy and Hoult’s elligible and agile heroes, pretty much all the major male roles here are grotesques, the tribe leaders all coming across as Noah Cross meets Harvey Weinstein, each using his power to keep beautiful women under their club foot. Oh, and having explored how we have all become slaves to oil in those early Mad Max outings, here, Miller has now added water, and how this natural, necessary resource is slowly becoming a lucrative commodity. Hurrah!

Still, is Mad Max: Fury Road actually any good?

The early reviews, largely written in a panic to be first out of the gate, have been pretty ecstatic, but there was something a bit too washed-up Wachowski about this long-awaited sequel for me. All style over grit, CGI OTT over any kind of character TLC. Former box-office queen Theron is no Weaver, and Hardy hardly brings anything new to the role (the Bane mask doesn’t help), with only Hoult truly holding his own. Which is a shame, because I feckin’ loved Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. RATING: 3.5/5

Review by Paul Byrne


Mad Max: Fury Road
Movie Review By Paul Byrne
3.5Overall Score
  • filmbuff2011

    It’s been a long, long wait for Mad Max: Fury Road. After 30 years of exile in the Outback, ‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky is back with a roar of that famous V8 engine. Given its long and troubled production history that stretches back as far as 2003 and the fact that it started filming in 2012, Fury Road could have been a mess. Nothing to worry about now, as it’s a primal scream of a film that delivers on almost every level. Still haunted by memories of the family he lost to the glory riders, Max (Tom Hardy) finds himself captured by a group of painted-faced goons. They take him to their city, which is run by the dictatorial Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the Toecutter in the first film). With a nod to Darth Vader, Immortan Joe is encased in his own protective suit and breathing apparatus. But he also withholds precious water from his flock. He becomes enraged when one of his most trusted warriors, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), liberates his Five Wives who he keeps for breeding purposes. Immortan Joe and his gang pursue Furiosa through the desert at breakneck speed, while Max is strapped onto the front of a vehicle by goon Nux (Nicholas Hoult). The key to salvation and paradise itself may lie within Max… Last year’s stunning Comic-Con trailer promised great things and returning director George Miller has crafted what is essentially one long chase movie. The action gets going straight from the beginning, building up to a deadly pursuit through a spectacular desert storm. That’s the type of sequence that you would normally expect in a third act. After that, you would think that Miller has shown all his cards – but no, he has even more mayhem in store. Hardy acquits himself well, maintaining Max’s strong-but-silent burnt-out persona established by Mel Gibson. He was the perfect choice for the part and it’s re-assuring to know that he’s signed up for three more films. Theron balances the film out in a strong female role that the previous films lacked. But the most impressive thing about Fury Road is the jaw-dropping location work, mostly in Namibia and Cape Town. Stylistically, it looks quite different to the previous films but one would be hard-pressed to find a more visually spectacular film this year. This is a film to see on the biggest screen you can find. The only real nit-picking involves the fact that Max feels like a periphery character at times, particularly at the beginning. But that’s not enough to detract from what is thrilling, fast, furious and stylish film. Welcome back Max. We missed you. ****

  • James jimbo

    Savoy Dublin – 14th May. Booming drums being played around O’Connell street. A busted down car on both sides of the entrance greeted us for the walk in to see this movie last night.
    Sitting waiting on the movie to start and its clear from the soundtrack being played this will be a frantic movie, curtains open and after the crap trailers, one of which everyone in the cinema laughed at, the movie starts.
    Ignore that top part there ^ This movie is stunning. You don’t get a minute to catch your breath and this person is old enough to remember kids kicking lumps out of each other having watched the Karate Kid. I am sure everyone leaving last night after seeing this movie tore up the road going home.
    Frantic sweeping epic sets, the music at times making it seem more-so, barren wastelands, fast cars and crazy guitarists.
    I am not one for spoiling the story, just to say max is on the run at the start and it doesn’t let up from the first minute.
    Bring an inhaler, get the bus, get set for a wild ride along the fury road.
    Its good to see a movie come back after all these years and not be crap.
    Easily one of the best movies of the year

  • Martin

    After a 30 year wait Mad max is finally back on our screens. And mad max fury road is back with a bang. New directors should take a leave out of gerorge millers book and see just how tge now 70 year old director does things. It’s what cinema is all about and what action movies should be. This film will leave you stuck for words which is approate because the movie itself is short enough on dialogue. This is one to see in the big screen. Il be going again to see it too. Brilliant

  • emerb

    Armed with a far larger budget and a brand new cast, director George Miller brings us “Mad Max: Fury Road”, the hotly anticipated and long-delayed fourth instalment in the apocalyptic saga “Mad Max” and it’s well worth the wait. It’s been 30 years since we last watched Mel Gibson’s reluctantly charismatic Max Rockatansky scrambling for survival in a world blighted by drought and fuel shortages and helping to defend an oil refinery from a band of marauders. Much has changed in the nuclear-devastated landscape that Max wanders, the world has torn itself apart and blown itself apart. The human race has gone feral as water and petrol run low. Now Max has been transformed from Mel Gibson to a terse, darker and more haunted Tom Hardy who slogs away through this vicious desert world with only survival as his goal. Fury Road goes even further than its predecessor, this film is nothing but insane violence, chaos and mayhem which never lets up. One long high-octane action sequence runs into the next with the speed of lightning. Miller may be 70 but his brilliantly staged and edited sequences are far superior to those of many contemporary action directors. His post-apocalyptic vision of the world will dazzle your eyes and blow your mind!

    Opening with an ambitious and visually stunning chase sequence, the story begins inside the immense mountainside stronghold called “The Citadel” which is ruled by an all-powerful, all-hideous creature in a skull-like breath-mask named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). He is a ghoulish, monstrous quasi-religious leader who lords over a society where he cruelly rations the water supply and keeps what’s left of the good earth for himself. He has five personal harems locked in a tower with whom he hopes to conceive, by force, a healthy son and heir. His women are drained of their breast milk and his girls are farmed for their wombs. Men like the wandering Max are captured to be used as human hood ornaments or “universal donors” called “Bloodbags”, used to provide fuel for
    Nux (Nicholas Hoult), one of the hundreds of “War Boys” devoted to the cult of Immortan Joe. Cherlize Theron is Imperator Furiosa, Joe’s one-armed lieutenant, a prized and respected warrior who goes rogue in a bid to escape The Citadel and make her way back to the idyll of her childhood home. With Max’s initially reluctant help, she drives off with Joe’s prized harem of young brides (one who is pregnant), in the belly of a petrol tanker on a routine supply run. Enraged, Joe unleashes a suicidal eight-cylinder army on their trail. From there, “Mad Max: Fury Road” essentially becomes one long multi-vehicle chase movie – a screaming death race into a gigantic, surreal sandstorm. It is one hell of a phenomenal ride assaulted by forks of lightning, tornadoes and fireballs…in a world gone mad. We witness some of the most exhilaratingly sustained and completely crazy but brilliantly staged action sequences I have ever seen.

    The plot here is secondary and the dialogue is sparse but there is much to enjoy visually, including dazzlingly choreographed and edited stunts. I thought the film at times felt like an extremely loud silent movie! Hardy nails it and commands the screen from start to finish – both he and Theron are one of the best action duos
    I’ve ever seen. Hardy is compellingly odd and brings a certain camp detachment
    to the lead role, speaking rarely and when he does it’s in a weird, deep monotone murmur. Nicholas Hoult is excellently unhinged as Nux, a twitchy stowaway on the trip who is suffering from radioactive debilitation. However, for me it is Charlize Theron who is the most engaging of the cast. She is the rogue soldier, Imperator Furiosa, who masterminds the escape and she is one of the toughest and most resilient action heroes I have seen in years. With her metal prosthetic arm and steely gaze, she is desperate, powerful and domineering. The admirably capable Theron perfectly captures her stoicism, nerve and resolve. With her metallic appendage and knife in her side, she commands attention whether she is driving like a devil or howling in a rage. I certainly wasn’t expecting feminism to crop up in “Mad Mad: Fury Road” but yet Theron is not the only instance of it. The movie has many elements of female empowerment. The escaping wives may be young and beautiful but they are no damsels in distress and play a key role in their own dash for freedom. They include Rosie Huntington Whitely as the Splendid Angharad and Zoe Kravitz is Toast the Knowing and each has their own brand of toughness and resilience. Perhaps Miller is hinting
    at a world where there is an urgent need for female rule in order to save men from themselves and get mankind back on track. The warped world Miller paints is one of destruction and appalling inhumanity with man at his most primitive…and most violent.

    “Mad Max: Fury Road” is not like any movie you will have seen before. It is both stunningly effective and chillingly visceral – one hell of an exhilarating ride from start to finish. The computer graphics are top notch – painting a backdrop of whirlwinds, fireballs, mud, blood, gasoline and dust storms against the mind bogglinly over-the-top action and chase sequences. The score is fantastic – filled with war drums and pulse-pounding rhythms which all add to the momentum. The movie is vividly imaginative and I thought the many wild scenes were so edgy, gritty and ferocious that they left many modern Hollywood blockbusters feel cartoonish in comparison. Miller has set out to shock and thrill and as an action movie, this is far superior to most. “Max Max: Fury Road” is an intense juggernaut of a film – wonderful, crazy and ingenious – it will leave you breathless. For me, watching this movie was a delirious cinematic experience. For sheer spectacle and satisfying action, it simply cannot be missed.

  • Randy

    A grand spectacle which can be appreciated by the masses as well as cinephiles. Indeed, women are not mere setpieces but fully fleshed-out characters. Some shots are simply masterful and the use of practical effects and meticulous attention to detail to create this fantastic world, it’s not a mere sequel but really comes into its own. Wow, just wow!