Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. Australia/USA, 2015. Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Kennedy Miller Productions, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, White Noise Factory. Screenplay by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris. Cinematography by John Seale. Produced by George Miller, Doug Mitchell, P.J. Voeten. Music by Junkie XL. Production Design by Colin Gibson. Costume Design by Jenny Beavan. Film Editing by Margaret Sixel. Academy Awards 2015. AFI Film of the Year 2015. Golden Globe Awards 2015. Washington Film Critics Award 2015.
George Miller returns to directing a live-action film for the first time in seventeen years, rebooting the post-apocalyptic franchise that brought him to fame in the late seventies and made Mel Gibson a star. And what live action it is! The solitary, wandering Max Rockatansky (here embodied by Tom Hardy) gets himself into another crazy road chase when he is captured and branded by a ragged tribe led by an oppressive dictator (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who keeps his people begging for food and water while keeping enslaved women as his personal breeding factory. When one of the warriors (Charlize Theron as the beautifully named Imperator Furiosa) responsible for bringing gasoline to their citadel takes her giant tank off road in an effort to save a number of her leader’s young wives, she drags Max into an escape plan that involves being pursued non-stop for days across an endless desert featuring no small number of challenges. It’s loud, it’s exciting and distills its narrative to only what is pure and essential: the situation is set up, processed and resolved, with male, destructive force and female creative power both equally brutal in a world where relationships are based on defense and need while vulnerability is not permitted where domination is desired. Outstanding editing, sound design and John Seale’s gorgeous cinematography are the basis for exquisite, imaginative direction and marvelous performances in the leads, with Theron being particularly impressive as both one-armed action hero and noble idealist. It’s a great ride and worthy of the perfection of The Road Warrior.