It’s been 30 years since Mel Gibson wandered across a post-apocalyptic wasteland and escaped at the mercy of Tina Turner in “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome,” the third film in the “Mad Max” series.
Even without Gibson, director George Miller has crafted an explosive, gorgeous, and thoroughly satisfying follow-up with “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The words “It’s been worth the wait” is an understatement.
Tom Hardy takes over the iconic role of Mad Max, who still is walking the desolate landscape of Australia. Like the first three movies, he encounters a series of bizarre-looking characters and settings, and let’s not forget those makeshift, souped-up vehicles, some of which look like porcupines on steroids.
Max is captured by a warlord, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), and is held prisoner until he uses his survival skills to break free. Later, Max meets up with a female warrior, Furiousa (a buff Charlize Theron), who is trying to lead a group of women out of the control and possession of their tyrants.
The movie is one sensational set piece after another. The first action sequence is nearly unmatched in terms of sheer visceral onslaught and highly imaginative in its execution. The final action sequence is much the same way. IMAX theaters will go haywire for these two scenes alone.
While “Mad Max: Fury Road” does have more than enough incredible spectacle, it has just enough story to keep it afloat and compelling performances from Hardy and Theron. The rest of the movie is anchored by the action.
What makes this installment worthy, memorable and, on some levels, superior to the others is what made them work so well: Its look, style and energy. There are images that don’t evaporate over time, such as one character playing an electric guitar that shoots out flames, and some of the nighttime cinematography is nothing short of unique and breathtaking.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is much more of a visual experience than a story, but it’s one not to be missed. I know I’m having a sense of deja vu from my last review of “Hot Pursuit,” but I think it’s worth paraphrasing: Both “Furious 7” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” now have competition for the biggest, loudest and most-exhilarating action movie of the year. Not only one of the year’s best action movies, but one of the year’s best films. Period.
Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.