Opening 14 May 2015
Writing credits: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
Principal actors: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman
The fourth Mad Max episode in 36 years is amazing in many ways. Director George Miller waited 30 years to create a sequel and it is well worth the wait. Mel Gibson no longer plays Max after three sessions; perhaps he grew out of the role. Now we have a convincing Tom Hardy. Filmed in Africa and Australia, the endless desert is full of military vehicles creatively stamped from old cars and scrap metal into jeeps and tanks, embellished with slings, swings, rockets, and human beings hanging from the sides. They drive to enormous swells of music which fit perfectly – music by Junkie XZ and 58 (!) members of the sound department. There is even a music truck with four huge drums and a guitarist dressed in red. The ruler of this miserable, inhuman, post-apocalyptic (2060) domain is Immortan Joe. He is chasing Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who sped away from the Citadel with a stolen oil truck (called a War Rig). Furiosa also has five beautiful girls in her truck; they are fleeing a life of delivering mother milk for the ruler’s consumption and say, “Our babies will not be War Lords.” Max is a prisoner strapped to the front of one of these trucks. He manages to escape and join Furiosa, as does Nux, who changes loyalties along the way and mutters, “I die; I live again.” Perhaps we believe him. Furiosa steers towards the Green Place, where she lived before being kidnapped. They must go through more enemy territory; Joe is never far away.
What we have is actually a road movie, much as the title suggests, as the chase occupies almost all of the 120 minutes playing time, without once being boring. The Citadel is a high cliff surrounded by half-dead people holding up bowls in the hope that water will be switched on for them to collect. Joe says, “An addiction to water will take hold of you and you will resent its absence.” Steering wheels are important. There are little old women on motorcycles. The new race is pale, shirtless and bald. What’s this piece of embroidery? “Redemption” is a popular word. Furiosa drives for miles in spite of having lost her left arm.
I was a newcomer to Mad Max and approached it suspiciously. I am now convinced. It’s not necessary to have seen any previous Mad Max movies, although if you have, then you recognize the small girl who flits before the eyes of Max or realize the significance of the dwarf. Mad Max appears both in 3D, or without, depending on the cinema, and I recommend the latter. 3D is definitely not necessary and would only distract. If you see it in Hamburg, then Savoy Cinema is up to the challenge and, as my colleague said, “If you sit in the front rows, you are almost in the film, too.” This is something to think about when selecting a seat. I sat in the back. (Becky Tan)