Exhilarating big-screen return for Mad Max lives up to the hype

Believe the hype. George Miller’s extreme blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road rips up the action rulebook.

It arrives 30 years after the third instalment, Beyond Thunderdome, and the visual advancements are staggering.

Miller’s post-apocalyptic dustbowl setting is impeccably realised. The unrestrained, burnt-orange cinematography gives way only to an equally vivd, inky-blue night.

Replacing Mel Gibson in the title role is a stony-faced Tom Hardy. With a mere handful of lines, he’s somewhat wasted here but succeeds in bringing an air of quality to the whole enterprise.

Miller shuns both lengthy exposition and far-reaching character development. Instead he gives us an intense, two-hour chase sequence packed with bizarre, imaginative details and camera trickery.

Everything (from the corrupt Citadel’s reliance on farmed breast milk to the cause of the community’s physical deformities) is delivered in swift visual clues.

Miller’s understated approach to character has a number of casualties: a brief emotional turning point is impossible to pull off, something that endangers the film’s environmental message. Yet, despite it’s unrelenting action, Fury Road is suffused with an unlikely feminist thread that succeeds where its environmental one stumbles.

Max is thrown upon the mercy of Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who’s rescuing five beautiful ‘breeders’ from the Citadel. Their cliché, barely-there robes are a rare mis-step in Miller’s refreshing liberation plot.

Exhilarating and imaginative to the point of weird, Miller’s disregard for the tropes and rhythms of the genre are a reinvigorating force, proving that we haven’t yet seen it all.