It’s been 30 years since Max wandered into the sunset after Thunderdome, but director George Miller shows that the character, now played by Tom Hardy, is still at home on the big screen. And while factoring in Hardy’s age and portrayal, he is definitely not the character 30 years older than when we last saw him, he has definitely been out wandering for too long. He’s haunted by visions of his wife and child, and seems to have some anxious reactions to things, as he does what he’s always tried to do survive. I also think Max has more dialogue in this film than the other three films combined!
But this isn’t only Max’s film, for this outing we are introduced to the kick-ass character, Furiosa (Charlize Theron). She’s fleeing Immortan Joe (Hugh Kaeys-Byrne who played Toecutter in the first film), with a precious cargo. In a world where fuel and water outweigh the price of a life, and people can be property, Furiosa is making her escape to the Green Land she remembers from her youth. Immortan Joe isn’t quite willing to let her or her precious cargo go, and so begins a huge epic chase across the outback, and Max finds himself caught up in the middle of it.
And that literally is the plot, but let’s be honest, we don’t come to the Max films for lots of story, we come for the action, and Miller doesn’t let up off the gas once. Sure there are breathers as our characters reorient themselves, but for the most part, the action doesn’t let up for a more than a few minutes in its total 2 hour runtime.
The film looks great! While Road Warrior may have been my favorite of the films, this one could easily nudge it aside, it feels bigger, much more epic, and the combination of practical and computer enhanced effects make this ride simply jaw-dropping! The pole-cat sequence towards the end of the film is one of my favorite beats.
But most of all, I love the fact that Furiosa is Max’s equal, and is treated as such. She holds her own in a rough knock down fight with Max early in the film, and is the driving force behind the action of the entire film. And the action is nothing less than amazing, it just keeps coming, as our heroes end up being pursued than no less than 3 war parties, all of them with their own styles, vehicles and weapons – though at the center of it all is Immortan Joe’s followers, an almost fanatical group known as Warboys who seem completely devoted to him.
Max is worn, a little unstable, but very much very recognizable as the character we’ve known, the V8 Interceptor is there, the leather jacket, even the leg brace. This is a Max for the 21st century, and Miller has made a action-packed film that was definitely worth the wait. It’s brutal, violent and like we’ve come to expect from the series, some fantastic vehicular stunts and explosions.