Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, ZoŽ Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Directed by: George Miller
A burnt, red, ravaged face against a white hospital pillow. A tin of dog food devoured with a spoon. Cricket pad armour and white blonde quiffs; the promised land a snatched view of a long gone city on a child's toy. Leather, skulls and pig sh*t. Tina Turner.
It's been well over twenty years since I last saw Geprge Miller's Mad Max trilogy, but certain elements have stuck in my mind like glue. And, thirty years since the rugged road warrior ventured Beyond Thunderdome, he's back. And this time he's Tom Hardy. Smile.
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by a despotic, disease-raddled warlord more armour and apparatus than actual man, oil is scarce and water scarcer, a symbol of power hoarded by the few as a means of controlling the downtrodden, mutant, mutilated masses. From the high stony fortress of the Citadel emerges Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a shaven-headed warrior maven with a cyborg-esque prosthetic arm and a grim set to her chiselled features. At the wheel of an armoured war-rig, she is despatched to capture more supplies from nearby Gas Town. But Furiosa has another agenda.
This is the bit where, in your usual action movie, our hero would parachute in to save the woman from her fool's errand and make everything she's stuffed up go okay. But Mad Max: Fury Road, directed by a seventy-year-old man who's made pig talks, penguins dance and Jack Nicholson spew cherry stones, is not your usual action movie. It is in fact the world's first equal opportunities action flick, in which age, sex or disability are immaterial and the will to struggle and survive (and the sureness of your aim) are what really count.
Sure, our monosyllabic hero (oh! the Tom Hardy grunt!) is certainly handy to have on your side in a fight, but I can't help thinking that Furiosa could probably have managed fine without him. In fact I suspect I may be even more in love with her than I am with Hardy, as she doggedly ascends to join Ripley and Sarah Connor and complete my female role model triumvirate (triumfemate?).
But if that all sounds a bit dull and worthy, well, it's really, really not. It is simply the best action film I've seen since Terminator 2, a literally breathtaking, white-knuckle ride that explodes in your face at 100mph and doesn't lose momentum for two suddenly-short hours. Jaw-dropping set pieces featuring death defying stunts that actually look real; souped up, skull-adorned, behemoth monster trucks and the best bunch of bloodthirsty berserkers ever to smear themselves with body paint and strap on goggles and a bullet belt (Nicholas Hoult is a particular treat as confused, tattooed warboy Nux): Mad Max: Fury Road is high octane, pedal to the metal excitement from start to finish. And Miller of course sticks to the old adage that if you see a flame-throwing guitar-playing gimp chained to the bonnet of a truck in the first act, you'll see him again in the third...
Did I mention this film is really rather awesome, and you should run not walk – no, floor it – to the cinema. Buckle up folks and keep your arms in, because you're in for a hell of a ride.