Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Nick Deal
News of the plans for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ absolutely evaded my radar until about a year ago. I knew nothing of the franchise and nothing of the complications in getting this fourth film to the big screen. The project was put on hold for a lengthy 25 years, with financial difficulties, security concerns and the short attention span of Mel Gibson bringing the fourth installment to a standstill. That is, until 2006 when director George Miller declared his intention to make the film, even if Mel Gibson wasn’t willing to reprise his role as Max Rockatansky. Several years later, and my attention was peaked with news that Tom Hardy would be leading the cast for the all-action reboot; I was sold almost instantly.
Back in 1979, a fresh-faced Mel Gibson donned head to toe leather and put his Australian ancestry to good use as the titular character in ‘Mad Max’. The lure of fast cars, big explosions and dangerous biker gangs was enough to elevate the film to cult status; the fans wanted more. And George Miller duly obliged, with the hard-hitting 1981 sequel ‘The Road Warrior’. This follow up excelled where its predecessor failed, with more violence, more explosions and a Max with a darker, more dangerous edge. Literally, everything an action movie should be – success all round. Sadly, a trilogy dictates that there must be a third film, and everybody knows “three’s a crowd”. Roping in the help of a pop diva was always going to be problematic, and as the main antagonist in ‘Beyond Thunderdome’, Tina Turner is nothing more than half-decent. Gone are the psychopathic bikers, replaced by a musical matriarch. Nonetheless, the legacy of ‘Mad Max’ lived on, just about surviving on the grounds of two out of three ain’t bad.
George Miller, the mastermind behind it all – as he is so regularly described – enjoyed an unusual career in the years following the famous trilogy. Perhaps it was the stress of the escaping dream of a ‘Mad Max’ quadrilogy which led Miller to settle down in the director’s chair for the farmyard fun of ‘Babe’. Fair play to the man – the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and smashed the Australian box-office – but surely this was an anomaly, a nice, relaxing family film to break from all the violence. Wrong. Three years later and Miller stepped in to make a sequel. Even more odd, in 2006, the man with a penchant for action and explosions took on the all singing, all dancing ‘Happy Feet’ series. From post-nuclear warfare to theatrical penguins, quite the transformation.
Luckily, George Miller finally managed to give his fourth film life, and we have been treated to multiple teasers and trailers over the past year. From the footage we’ve seen so far, we can make certain predictions about what we can expect from this franchise reboot. Aesthetically and visually, this film looks absolutely stunning. Long tracking shots over vast open desert spaces, filled with intense and vivid colour. As far as setting and environment goes, I can’t think of any trailer off the top of my head which has instilled me with such a feeling of awe as ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ has. As we mentioned previously, this is a franchise which has been built on its reputation for all things violent and downright crazy. This fourth installment looks set to not only continue that trend, but take it to a whole new level with gravity-defying collisions, monumental explosions and incredible slow-motion action sequences all look set to feature prominently. And as far as those crazy antagonists, we need look no further than Nicholas Hoult’s stunning one-liner, “Oh what a lovely day”, to reassure us that this film will be just as mad as its characters allow it to be, and from the evidence we have, I would prepare for full-on insanity.
The trailers, particularly the latest offering, conjure up plenty of memories from the original trilogy. We see the famous gasoline truck which has served Max Rockatansky so well in the past, and there’s the haunting tune of the clockwork musical box which Max gifted to a feral child in ‘The Road Warrior’. Will this child return? Will Max’s HGV save the day again? Thankfully, the leading man himself appears to have adopted a delightfully dark and dangerous demeanour to put Mel Gibson’s portrayal to shame. Tom Hardy is a firm favourite with us, and he looks set to revel in his most action-packed role to date. Alongside him, Charlize Theron has the strong, leading lady role down to a tee. No surprise there. Here’s hoping her character, Imperator Furiosa, may finally be the one to match Mad Max and give him a real run for his gasoline.
It appears that this latest installment will have everything that thrill-seeking moviegoers could possibly hope for. Having seen the trailer in the cinema, there is no doubt that this is a film which needs to be enjoyed on the big screen. Truly, a stunning visual spectacle. ‘Fury Road’ promises to be the highlight of the series; bigger and better than ever before. The years have been kind to Max Rockatansky, clearly benefitting from the advancements in special effects. The action sequences look beautifully crafted and the backdrop that all of the action takes place against is absolutely breathtaking . Let’s just hope the curse of the trailer doesn’t strike again and fill us with false hope.
‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is released in UK cinemas on May 15th 2015