Main cast: Tom Hardy (Mad Max Rockatansky), Charlize Theron (Imperator Furiosa), Nicholas Hoult (Nux), Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (The Splendid Angharad), Riley Keough (Capable), Zoë Kravitz (Toast the Knowing), Abbey Lee (The Dag), Courtney Eaton (Cheedo the Fragile), and Hugh Keays-Byrne (Immortan Joe)
Director: George Miller
When I first caught the trailer of Mad Max: Fury Road, the designated fourth movie in the Mad Max franchise (although it can also be seen as a reboot, if you ask me), I was puzzled by how Charlize Theron was featured more prominently in it compared to Tom Hardy. Well, after watching this movie, it becomes clear: this is actually the story of Charlize Theron’s character, the Imperator Furiosa, with Mad Max only playing a secondary role. This movie is all about the girl power, with the boys (Mad Max and Nux) basically playing the muscle power bouncers of these ladies.
Well, we are in a post-apocalyptic world, et cetera. You know how it is. Max is initially captured by the War Boys of Immortan Joe, a warlord who controls a rich source of water and, hence, gains much power as the leader of a bunch of folks who venerate him as a deity. His War Boys, in fact, believe that he would reward them with a stay in the Valhalla should they valiantly die while carrying out his cause. Max ends up a “blood bank”, a prisoner who is left alive only because his blood can be used to replace those lost by his designated “owner”, in this case the War Boy Nux.
When it comes to the glory of pledging full loyalty to Immortan Joe, the Imperator Furiosa begs to differ. During what seems like a routine trade mission, she smuggles out Immortan Joe’s harem and then flees for a place she recalled to be her childhood home – the Green Place, a place where mothers (some of the members of the harem are pregnant) are allowed to raise their children freely and in peace. Immortan Joe soon discovers his missing harem and, when Furiosa goes off course, puts two and two together and orders all his capable men to come with him and take those wives and his kids that they are carrying back.
Nux, injured from a previous skirmish, insists on coming along, and he brings his blood bank with him. Eventually the two factions clash, and Max manages to break free. He and Furiosa don’t trust one another at first, but they soon realize that they have to rely on one another if they and the Wives are to make it out of this movie alive. Meanwhile, Nux tags along, first as an enemy but, after getting a taste of the sexy from one of the Wives, turns into an ally. I know, men can be so easy.
This movie is non-stop action from start to finish. In fact, I don’t recall watching anything this happening, so to speak, in a while. The scenery is beautiful, the script retains some of the cheeky, even satirical humor of the original movies, and the action scenes are insane.
Unfortunately, while Charlize Theron is more than capable of pulling off the strong kick-ass female lead, Tom Hardy lacks the gravity and the charisma to pull off his role. While Mad Max is never the central character, so to speak, even in the original movies – he’s the classic ronin that wanders into a scene of conflict and ends up reluctantly helping the cause – Mel Gibson manages to make his character, a man of few lines but plenty of ass-kicking to give – memorable indeed. Mr Hardy, however, never succeeds in making his character appear as more than a bouncer to Furiosa’s entourage. As for Nux… well, he’s a man led around by his little head, so there’s that. This movie is all about girl power, as in addition to Furiosa, we have the Wives, most of whom are actually capable of kicking ass in their own right despite their inability to remember to pack along some practical clothes before they fled the coop. Even the old ladies in this movie kick major rear end. The girl power statement is somewhat undermined a little, though. by the script falling back on tedious old gender stereotypes. Yes, women are all about peace and harmony and back to nature crock, while men are all naturally barbaric savages. That one is so overdone already.
The biggest problem with Mad Max: Fury Road, though, is that it runs about two hours, but its running time feels much longer eventually due to the relentless chases and near-deaths and what not eventually creating a sense of tedious monotony. There is a repetitive pattern to everything here – the same guys keep chasing the good guys – and I find myself wishing that there is more variation to the action scenes here. Even a vehicle falling off a cliff would be a nice respite from the same old pattern of spiked vehicles hitting the sides of Furiosa’s armored truck repeatedly while other vehicles shoot missiles or try to send guys vaulting on poles onto the truck being played out for the dozenth time. There is a lot of action, which I appreciate, and the movie has no problems killing off sympathetic or likable characters, another plus, but the choreography and the set-up of the action scenes seriously need an injection of variety. Things get tedious and even predictable after the first hour when the novelty of the setting wears off.
Anyway, this one is the epitome of brainless fun, but its plodding repetitiveness and its ineffective male lead actor bog things down considerably.