IT seems amazing to consider that George Miller’s first movie in the four-part Mad Max series was distributed way back in 1979. But that’s when Mel Gibson erupted onto our screens as anarchic police officer Max Rockatansky.
It’s still a futuristic world blighted by chronic fuel shortages, drought and frantic scrabbling for a portion of sparse resources still available, but now we’ve got Tom Hardy as Max. He’s first involved in a jailbreak from a desert citadel ruled by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who is not very happy when his five wives escape in the belly of a petrol tanker.
It has to be remembered that this film is set in the near future. There’s no cities or civilizations left and water – known as Aqua Cola – is severely rationed. Scarce resources are hoarded and fought over and Max, with his features encased in a metal grille (remember Tom Hardy also in a steel mask as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) is unsuccessful in his first bid for freedom. He’s been strapped to the front grille of one of Immortan Joe’s vehicles. Fortunately a new acquaintance Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who has a bionic arm, assists in Max ridding himself not only of the grille but also his spot on the bow of the massive truck. They charge off across the Wasteland in her War Rig. There’s real danger here because the concealed cargo in Furiosa’s tanker is indeed Joe’s five young wives, who’d been imprisoned in the citadel to bear his children. Furiosa leaves the convoy heading to the oil refinery so Joe’s henchman Nux (Nicholas Hoult) directs the posse sent to hunt them down. There’s a lot of sustained chasing across the desert with plenty of speeding, bouncing and exploding, but there’s also a smattering of Viking legend involved. Nux who is a brain-washed goon believes that he will certainly die, but will be re-born after sacrificing himself for a journey to Valhalla. Shades of SBS-TV’s recent Vikings series, here.
Max doesn’t have an awful lot to say but he does remind us that “his world is fire.” And we are also reminded that he did lose his wife, child and best friend back in the 1979 epic which probably accounts for his determination to win out in this world of total social decay. And another reminder of the 1979 ground-breaker. Hugh Keays-Byrne played the part of Toecutter in the series opener, so he’s a sucker for a bit of make-up and a few wardrobe add-ons.