When you’re bringing a sequel to a cult trilogy, thirty years after the last movie, chances are the people who caught it in theatres in 1985 have probably moved on to Tivo or watching Toy Story with their grandkids. Here’s the thing. If they were really fanboys (or girls) of the Mel Gibson movies about a cop in a post-apocalyptic outback, then they should definitely drag themself to a theatre to catch Mad Max: Fury Road. The action is mind-blowing, constant and doesn’t look clunky (like most Schwarzenegger movies these days) in a retro way. And it actually has a story that manages to keep you engaged between the roughly twenty-minutes-a-pop chase sequences.
‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) takes over from where Mel Gibson left us in Thunderdome -- a man with a violent past, haunted by the family he couldn’t save. He wanders the waterless wasteland ravaged by biker gangs, nomads and controlled by a warlord called Immortan Joe -- who appears to be on a mobile version of life support, that looks an awful lot like Bane’s mask from the Dark Knight movies. He starves the masses of water and food, releasing a few drops on a whim. Understandably, he’s not popular and rules the dusty realm with a troop of half-life humans called War Boys, who drive spiked, old cars and trucks and smash stuff up pretty badly.
Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron pulls off a near bald look with rugged charm), deserts Joe and drives her large truck across the realm in a bid to save the five young girls that Joe was using for breeding his spawn. Disinterested in another person’s travails at first, Max is pulled into an unlikely alliance with the girls when they find themselves pursued -- not lease because he’s a universal blood donor and his RBCs are gold dust for the half-dead war boys. And so they shoot, jab, jump, soar, stick, scream and run their way across the great outdoors until they finally decide to mount a final assault on Joe’s Citadel -- with the truck and a few good (old) women on bikes.
While it’s easy to write off the action sequences with a few well-placed adjectives, George Miller’s handling of the length sequences -- interspersing good old-fashioned cliffhangers with some killer DI work, is laudable. Amazing almost. In an age where action movies that are about as emotional as blunt force trauma to the head, Mad Max’s protracted sequences actually keep you glued to the screen, your eyes actually unperturbed by cheap 3D gimmicks. The story stands by itself, making a strong case for the debate over existentialism and whether the human race will survive, if left to it’s own devices.
What stops it short of being perfect is the fact that through the entire plot Max takes a back seat -- almost as if he’s merely tagging along for the ride. Right at the end, when Theron’s mortally wounded, there are semblance of his humane side. A glimpse ever so slender, that held a promise of what could have been. But that aside, Mad Max: Fury Road is a perfect way to pick up where Mel left off. Amen to that.
Verdict: If this is your first Mad Max experience, take a deep breath, look beyond the weird, bizarre universe and soak up the action with some caramel popcorn