It is some time after the apocalypse that left Planet Earth's civilisation destroyed, but small pockets of humanity continue to exist, running life by their own rules, and that includes opportunities for tyranny. There are those who drift around the vast landscape, and one such is Max (Tom Hardy) who tries to put the deaths of those he has let down and been unable to save to the back of his mind, though some days - most days - that's a losing battle he's fighting. There are things to distract him, however, like driving across a desert only to be chased by a convoy of vehicles that bring down his vehicle and see him captured by a tribe led by the crazed dictator Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who plan to use Max for his precious bodily fluids...
It was quite the gap between this Mad Max and the previous one, thirty years before, making this instalment something of a reboot in the twenty-first century parlance. New star in a similar plot dynamic, perhaps, but the original writer and director was on board, George Miller, who adapted his vision of a future world of deserts and crazy driving to the blockbuster landscape of 2015, and found a warm welcome. Yet not everyone was happy, mostly because erroneously they believed this was emasculated Max given he had to share the screen with an equal, and she was (gasp!) a woman, the splendidly-named Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, appropriately an African actress seeing as how most of this was shot in the deserts of Namibia.
This injection of a strong feminine element was regarded as a betrayal of the supposedly ubermasculine world of Mad Max, presumably by those who hadn't noticed the strong female characters in the other three entries in the series, but there was a point Miller was making, perhaps not one that would have sat well with original star Mel Gibson yet now Hardy, an actor with a big following of men and women alike, was headlining it made a lot more sense. The plot featuring Furiosa escaping with Joe’s bevy of brides who were sick of being treated like cattle introduced Max tangentially at first, since he had been unable to escape from the hordes and was brought along by the convoy chasing the women as a mobile blood bank for one of Joe's best drivers, Nux (Nicholas Hoult), most of the tyrant's direct underlings suffering from physical ailments that needed topping up at regular intervals.
Therefore it was an allegory for the ongoing battle of the sexes as seen by the polarisation of the two sides, viewed in the opening act as having an alarming gap between them, and if you happened to venture onto the internet you may well regard the violence of those differing opinions as not too far away emotionally from how Miller depicted them in his fictional world. The females were under the yoke of male oppression in Fury Road, and by asserting their rights to have their own way and a say in how they lived and were treated, basically not as commodities to be exploited, that made them the enemy to those males who wished to sustain the status quo. This made them heroines too, but it also meant all the men were the villains, and that took in Max to that unlovely equation as he struggled to be self-reliant - or at least it did for a while, for after a confrontation in the wasteland he began to see the other point of view.
It was implied that by his role as hero, that fact that he had let women down before was haunting Max to the extent that by assisting Furiosa he could make amends, and that the best method of doing so is acknowledging the differences between men and women were not so much an impassable crevasse when a bridge could very easily be built, as was indicated by the combination of the two leads to save the day, physically as well as mentally. Of course, a science fiction action movie is going to deal in extremes and you would like to think no matter how hotheaded the battle was online, in reality it was possible to get along with folks a lot better without resorting to over the top bloodshed. How over the top? Miller truly indulged himself here, to the point of absurdity, and while it was fun it was also a shade monotonous over the course of two hours when he didn’t present quite the variation in action that he had before, with the stunt team far overshadowing his cast. But for most these would be quibbles, and sitting back to enjoy the breathlessly kinetic adventure was more than enough excitement, even if the message didn't mean much to some. Music by Junkie XL.
The nineties saw him offer medical drama Lorenzo's Oil (he was once a medical student) plus curious sequel Babe: Pig in the City and in the 2000s he enjoyed the international success of the animated Happy Feet and its sequel. In 2015 he successfully revived his most celebrated franchise in Mad Max: Fury Road. Not to be confused with the other Australian director George Miller.