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Mad Max: Fury Road (DQ)


Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, John Howard, Melissa Jaffer

Director: George Miller

The action certainly thunders furiously along, in this belated addition to the Mad Max franchise (probably the first of three), but the film doesn't quite reach the giddy heights of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the best of the original trilogy.

And, while my admiration for the English actor Tom Hardy in most roles is unbounded, there's really no Max like Mel Gibson, who actually looked mad enough for anything; good as he is, Hardy's taciturn personality is not really suited to the role: he's grumpy rather than mad.

The awesome spectacle at the start of the movie, though, set in an apocalyptic Australia of the future, is like something out of a Hollywood silent epic, as the camera pans over the imposing stronghold of a now aged Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne), who condescends to release - all too briefly - a little of his limitless supply of water, cascading down from on high like a waterfall, to a skeletal and gasping population below, while Joe's army of white-faced zombie-style 'war boys' carries out his orders, freakish figures abound, and Max himself, a metal mask clamped to his face, languishes as a captive in a cage.

Little does Joe realise, however, that his Imperator Furiosa (Theron), an amazon with a robotic arm, is making off in a war rig, with five 'breeder' girls, two of them pregnant, hiding within it, in search of her original home, 'The Green'.

An incensed Joe marshals all his crazy forces and bizarre vehicles, some of them with fighters on long, bendy poles, and sets out on a film-long desert pursuit. That's it really, and the action, though noisy and super-spectacular, with vehicles and bodies flying all over the place, is grindingly unvarying thereafter, sparked a little towards the end by a group of elderly women who prove no mean warriors themselves.

Miller does achieve one or two striking, Dali-esque images along the way, and the most noteworthy of the girls is Huntington-Whiteley, much improved from her inept showing in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. We'll make an actress out of the girl yet.

David Quinlan

Australia/South Africa 2015. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour (unspecified).
121 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 14 May 2015