It's been thirty years since Beyond Thunderdome but despite two Babes, two Happy Feets and a Lorenzo's Oil in the interim George Miller shows that he's lost none of that zest for zany action - Fury Road is everything you want from a Mad Max movie.
An unspecified time has elapsed since Mel Gibson's road warrior and Tina Turner's Bartertown matriarch parted ways in the desert and in that spell something has rotted inside the loner: we meet a bearded, half-crazy Max (Hardy, looking deliberately but inexplicably younger than when we left Gibson thirty years ago) chewing a live lizard. He is captured by bald, pasty-looking religious nuts and taken back to their canyon citadel where god-like leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) holds the water to ransom.
Looking to prove his worth to the tribe, the weak Nux (Hoult) lashes the tortured Max to the bumper of his vehicle to siphon the 'mad man's' blood as he joins in the chase of Furiosa (Theron), a respected warrior suspected of freeing Immortan's Five Wives (including a pregnant Huntington-Whitely), and has fled into the desert with the tribe's treasured War Rig...
The fun finale of Thunderdome was a reheat of Road Warrior's chaotic climactic chase and Miller, understanding that those are the best bits, serves up nothing more than a two hour chase sequence here.With little story, character depth and no greater meaning to any of it other than a monosyllabic Max's one mumbling speech about 'redemption', Fury Road dispenses with most of the ingredients of storytelling. This is all burger - there's no side salad or a root vegetable to be had. There's not even water to wash it down. Bar one necessary breather, Miller tosses about figures and vehicles with the giddy abandon of an excitable twelve-year-old in a sand pit. It's all outlandish, non-stop, theme park action.
Bonkers stuff, really. This is the kind of movie where a masked man draped in red can be chained to the front of an articulated truck while playing a giant, fire-breathing multi-necked guitar and it feels par for the course. It looks snazzy too, from the Namibian backdrop to the inventive motor mashups and manic makeup.
But repetition soon becomes a problem. With little to get involved in other than enjoying the complicated action scenarios, the lack of story - Theron and Hardy drive a truck into the desert... and then drive it back - means interest can wane towards the end with Miller unable to up the ante on the breath-taking first ninety minutes.