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Tom Hardy in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

As we look at the highly saturated blue and gold world that Max Rockatansky inhabits, you are instantly tempted to murmur one of Sheldon Cooper’s favourite catch-phrases: “Oh what fresh hell is this?”

Max (Tom Hardy) is captured by the War Boys. They are what are known as half-life, he is a full-life, and his blood type marks him as a universal donor. So Max is kept around as a blood bag for any War Boy who happens to require a ‘top up.’ The Boys serve Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) a grotesque leader of the people who keeps the seething masses under control by regulating–hoarding would be a better word–their supply of water.

One day, soon after Max has been captured, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) heads out in a War Rig on a gasoline run. In time it becomes clear that Furiosa is not headed in the right direction. Joe also discovers that his Five Wives are missing. At least one of them, played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, is very pregnant. Naturally Joe is furious and leads his War Boys in pursuit of the truant Imperator.

A War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult) is determined to join the chase even though he is unwell, and thinks nothing of using Max as a hood ornament that delivers blood. And so it goes: a chase in bizarrely collaged vehicles across beautiful and terrifying landscapes wherein an army of War Boys led by Joe himself seek to kill Furiosa and retrieve the precious human cargo she is attempting to spirit away from the madman’s clutches.

Everything you’ve seen in the trailers is true. The stunts are plentiful, death-defying, and certifiably insane. Vehicles explode, people go flying, and it is a wonder that the creatures of this post-apocalyptic wasteland get any sleep at all because the crunch and whine of twisting metal, and the screams and grunts of broken bodies can probably be heard for miles.

This is not really Max’s movie as much as it is Furiosa’s. And Ms. Theron inhabits her with a weary determination that treats even the loss of her left arm, amputated below the elbow, as just another after effect of the world she lives in. She is ever alert and unafraid: to fight, or run. The girls that used her giant War Rig as their escape vehicle are pretty cool too, and even though they get precious little to do, they manage to make their few screen moments work.

The other impressive part is played by Mr. Hoult as the bald, wiry, ill-but-determined Nux. This fanatical lad is giving it 110% percent so when he experiences a change of heart it comes at a personal price. As other trailers have led us to believe: Max is running away, not just from the creatures that would imprison his body, but also from the memories of those he was unable to save in the past — the people that imprison his mind. Precious little more is learnt about the man and the way Mr. Hardy plays him, he doesn’t really serve as a very memorable hero.

In the case of Mad Max: Fury Road the real hero is George Miller, the visionary director who returns with the fourth film in the franchise, thirty years after the last entry. The man co-wrote the film as well and the visual inventiveness on display in this movie needs to be seen to be understood. While those day-time sequences are impressive enough, I was bowled over by the night-time sequences as well. Rendered in a blue-hued reality that is barely hinted at in the trailers, they provide a surprising visual counter point to all the day-time action. Mr. Miller and his cinematographer John Seale have truly crafted some memorable visuals in Mad Max: Fury Road.

So go check it out. This kind of big budget auterist filmmaking does not come off the Hollywood assembly line very often.