It’s hard to believe, but it has been 30 years since Mad Max roared onto theater screens, but in my opinion, the series hasn’t missed a beat based on Mad Max: Fury Road. To put it mildly, it is a thrilling adventure that not only makes a great summer movie, but works as a stand-alone film that doesn’t require even having any knowledge of the first three films which all starred Mel Gibson, beginning with 1979’s classic, Mad Max. 

The role was definitely an iconic one for Gibson, one of the defining roles of his career, but as I say in my video review above, Tom Hardy walks right into it like he’s been playing it all his career. And he does it, like all great action figures, with minimal dialogue and lots of imposing presence. And, in a nice twist for Deadline Review Badge Pete Hammondthe saga, he is matched every step of the way by a new character, a kick-ass female Furiosa played in balls-out style by Charlize Theron in her best screen turn in a long while. I would say she is born to play this character, who is every bit the equal of the male lead, a real departure for this type of testosterone-driven film.

The plot, in fact, is literally driven by Furiosa who escapes from the Citadel, a haven of water and what remains of human life in a vast wasteland, that is run by the evil, creepy and tyrannical Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne who played Toecutter in the original 1979 film). But she doesn’t just do it herself, she takes his precious cargo known as Five Wives aka breeders who are used virtually as slaves simply to procreate. This leads to several more riveting action sequences, as the Road War to end all Road Wars commences with the Warlords and gangs going after the rebels. Along the way an initially reluctant Max, who believes the best way to survive is as a loner, finds himself in concert with Furiosa and these women , along with the youthful War Boy, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who is trying to escape his own dreary fate but does it in style.

The key to making this all work is in having original director George Miller back for another ride. He knows these characters, this milieu better than anyone and has had three decades away from it to really re-imagine this unique world and make it work every bit as well as it did the first three times. Helping tremendously is the absolutely stunning cinematography from Oscar winner John Seale. With its bright colors and startlingly blue skies this Mad Max looks unlike any post-apocalyptic movie ever made. In fact it recalls the great Monument Valley westerns of John Ford. And really that is what Max Max: Fury Road is, a ride of a lifetime with true classic western sensibilities.

The key cast is rounded out by Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton as the five wives. Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris co-wrote the effective pedal-to-the-metal script.  Doug Mitchell and PJ Voeten join Miller as producers. Warner Bros, in association with Village Roadshow, is releasing the film worldwide beginning this week right after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday.

Do you plan to see Mad Max: Fury Road?  Let us know what you think.