Mad Max: Fury Road Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult Director: George Miller Rating: 4/5
As the film opens, we see Tom Hardy's Mad Max staring towards a wasteland stretching all around him. As he talks about the dystopian world he is caught in, a lizard with two heads quietly crawls towards him. Without missing a beat, Max crushes it with his foot and pops it in his mouth.
Yeah, it is that kind of a film.
Director George Miller (don't be fooled by his past record of directing Happy Feet and Babe) took 30 years to re-energise a franchise he started in the '70s and trust us, the film is worth the wait. Its vivid imagery leaves you awed and its casual brutality will redefine how Hollywood makes dystopia films. It is not as much a film as a long chase sequence interspersed with pulse-pounding action, ravishing violence.
Here's what the story entails: Mad Max lost his wife and child eons ago. Damaged by their deaths, he is a lone wolf in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by the select few who control oil and water. The face-mask wearing Immortan Joe is almost a demi-god in his tyrannised Citadel. This warlord controls water (which he calls aqua cola) and disburses it to the wretched peasants as mist falling from a cliff at his pleasure.
Immortan Joe controls the water, and all the people living in the tyrannised Citadel.
Story kick-stars when five pleasure women from his harem escape with the help of one-armed Furiosa (Charlize Theon) in a giant tractor truck. The entire strength of the warlord follows them, including Max who has been captured by Immortan's skin-heads (called Warboys) and is now being used as a blood bank to top up the depleting RBCs of the Warboys.
As the chase continues, other warlords -- interestingly named People Eater and Bulletfarm Imperator -- join in what they call a "family squabble". Max and Furiosa soon meet and join forces -- both equals, both damaged and both looking for redemption.
If you have not seen any of the Mad Max films, worry not. The film in spirit is an extension of the Mel Gibson-starrers but takes place in its own universe, with an organic storyline.
Charlize Theron's Furiosa helps Immortan's pleasure women to escape, kickstarting the film's action.
The testosterone-fired film is more feminist than anything you would have seen in a long time. Just like all those men in muscle cars and muscle trucks, Furiosa is a fighter. Her marksmanship is better than Max's, she can find her way in any difficult situation and she can sure kick ass. But there is something that she, and her band of merry women, can do that men can't - feel, show emotions, have hope.
The only man who comes close to showing any kind of emotion is a Warboy-turned-renegade Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Warboys have been brought up to believe that there is a paradise (Nordic fable of Valhalla) awaiting a warrior who dies in combat. Nux also wants that glory but soon realises his god, Immortan, has feet of clay. He then decides to help Furiosa and the women to escape. In the midst of all the carnage and bloodshed, he is happy being surrounded by people he care for, and says "What a glorious, glorious day."
It is those little touches that make this film stand apart. Don't miss the dark humour either. The war machines which roll out have their own hard rock musician, who keeps on strumming the guitar as battle happens.
Film's pulsating action, souped-up cars and good performances are its strength.
Strong performances help this film rise above standard comic book fare. Theron is inspiring as Furiosa who desperately wants to find her way back home, knowing that the idyllic 'home' is long gone.
Tom Hardy has the strong, silent, man-with-a-code demenaour of Max and carries off the role beautifully and meticulously.
But the one man who carries off the film on his shoulders is its director, Miller. Every single shot in the film shows power of his brute imagination, those cinematic touches founded in layers of imagery and high-octane action. Grim yet exhilarating, it may be one of the more powerful movies this year.