Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2015 action film co-written, co-produced and directed by George Miller. Miller collaborated with Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris on the screenplay. The fourth installment and a reboot of the Mad Max franchise, it is a joint Australian-American venture produced by Kennedy Miller Mitchell, RatPac-Dune Entertainment and Village Roadshow Pictures. The film is set in a post apocalyptic desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities. It follows Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), who joins forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to flee from cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his army in an armoured tanker truck, which leads to a lengthy road battle. The film also features Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton.
Fury Road was in development hell for many years, with pre-production starting as early as 1997. Attempts were made to shoot the film in 2001 and 2003, but were delayed due to the September 11 attacks and the Iraq War. In 2007, after focusing on Happy Feet, Miller decided to pursue producing the film again. He briefly considered producing it as a computer-animated film but abandoned it in favor of live-action. In 2009, Miller announced that filming would begin in early 2011. Hardy was cast as Max in June 2010, with production planned to begin that November. Principal photography was delayed several more times before beginning in July 2012. The film wrapped in December 2012, although additional film footage was shot in November 2013.
The film had its world premiere on 7 May 2015 at the TCL Chinese Theatre. It began a worldwide theatrical release on 14 May 2015, including an out-of-competition screening at the 68th Cannes Film Festival, in 2D, 3D, IMAX 3D and 4DX. It has grossed over $378 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film in the Mad Max franchise. The film was ranked by many critics as the best film of 2015, and is considered one of the greatest action films of all time; acclaim went to its direction, screenplay, action sequences, and ensemble cast. Fury Road won multiple critical and guild awards, and received ten Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for George Miller. It won six: Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.
Following a nuclear holocaust, the world has become a desert wasteland and civilization has collapsed. Max Rockatansky, a survivor, is captured by the War Boys, the army of the tyrannical Immortan Joe, and taken to Joe's Citadel. Designated a universal blood donor, Max is imprisoned and used as a "blood bag" for a sick War Boy called Nux. Meanwhile, Imperator Furiosa, one of Joe's lieutenants, is sent in her armoured semi-truck, the "War Rig", to collect gasoline. When she drives off-route, Joe realizes that his five wives—women selected for breeding—are missing, and fleeing with her. Joe leads his entire army in pursuit of Furiosa, calling on the aid of nearby Gas Town and the Bullet Farm.
Nux joins the pursuit with Max strapped to his car to continue supplying blood. A battle ensues between the War Rig and Joe's forces. Furiosa drives into a sand storm, evading her pursuers, except Nux, who attempts to sacrifice himself to destroy the Rig. Max escapes and restrains Nux, but the car is destroyed. After the storm, Max finds Furiosa repairing the Rig, accompanied by the wives: Capable, Cheedo, Toast, the Dag and the Splendid Angharad, who is heavily pregnant with Joe's child. Max steals the Rig, but its kill switch disables it. Max reluctantly agrees to let Furiosa and the wives accompany him; Nux climbs on the Rig as it leaves and attempts to kill Furiosa, but is overcome and thrown out, and is picked up by Joe's army.
Furiosa drives through a biker gang-controlled canyon to barter a deal for safe passage. However, with Joe's forces pursuing, the gang turns on her, forcing her and the group to flee, while the bikers detonate the canyon walls to block Joe. Max and Furiosa fight pursuing bikers as Joe's car, with Nux now on board, breaks through the blockade and eventually attacks the War Rig, allowing Nux to board. However, as the Rig escapes, Angharad falls off in an attempt to protect Max and is run over by Joe's car, killing her and her child. Furiosa explains to Max that they are escaping to the "Green Place", an idyllic land she remembers from her childhood. Capable finds Nux hiding in the Rig, distraught over his failure, and consoles him. That night, the Rig gets stuck in the mud. Furiosa and Max slow Joe's forces with mines, but Joe's ally, the Bullet Farmer, continues pursuing them. Nux helps Max free the Rig while Furiosa shoots and blinds the Bullet Farmer. Max walks into the dark to confront the Bullet Farmer and his men, returning with guns and ammunition.
They drive the War Rig overnight through swampland and desert, coming across a naked woman the next day. Max suspects a trap, though Furiosa approaches the woman and states her history and clan affiliation. The naked woman summons her clan, the Vuvalini, who recognize Furiosa as one of their own who was kidnapped as a child. Furiosa is devastated to learn that the swampland they passed was indeed the Green Place, now uninhabitable. The group then plans to ride motorbikes across immense salt flats in the hope of finding a new home. Max chooses to stay behind, but after seeing visions of a child he failed to save, he convinces them to return to the undefended Citadel, which has ample water and greenery that Joe keeps for himself, and trap Joe and his army in the bikers' canyon.
The group heads back to the Citadel, but they are attacked en route by Joe's forces, and Furiosa is seriously wounded. Joe positions his car in front of the War Rig to slow it, while Max fights Joe's giant son, Rictus Erectus. Joe captures Toast, who manages to distract him long enough for Furiosa to kill him. Nux sacrifices himself by wrecking the Rig, killing Rictus and blocking the canyon, allowing Max, Furiosa, the wives, and the surviving Vuvalini to escape in Joe's car, where Max transfuses his blood to Furiosa, saving her life.
At the Citadel, the impoverished citizens react to Joe's death with joy. Furiosa, the wives, and the Vuvalini are cheered by the people and welcomed by the remaining War Boys. Max shares a respectful glance with Furiosa before blending into the crowd and again departing for parts unknown.
- Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky
- Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa
- Nicholas Hoult as ux
- Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as The Splendid Angharad
- Nathan Jones as Rictus Erectus
- Riley Keough as Capable
- Zoë Kravitz as Toast the Knowing
- Abbey Lee as The Dag
- Courtney Eaton as Cheedo the Fragile
- Josh Helman as Slit
- John Howard as The People Eater
- Richard Carter as The Bullet Farmer
- Angus Sampson as The Organic Mechanic
- iOTA as The Doof Warrior
- Megan Gale as The Valkyrie
- Melissa Jaffer as Keeper of the Seeds
- Melita Jurisic, Gillian Jones, Joy Smithers, Antoinette Kellerman, and Christina Koch as The Vuvalini
- Quentin Kenihan as Corpus Colossus
- Jon Iles as The Ace
Themes and analysis
The primary theme of Mad Max: Fury Road is survival and retention of humanity in the face of apocalyptic events. The theme of humanity is illustrated by Max beginning the film a feral wanderer, then rediscovering his former dignity by partnering with Furiosa. As the underlying goal for Max, the theme of staying alive has been carried over from the previous installments of the series that also highlight issues such as ecological collapse and moral decadence. "Survival is key", explained Miller. "I think it's a reason why the American Western was such a staple for the better part of a century in American cinema. They were allegorical tales with figures in the landscape working these things out".
Feminism is another theme that has received notice. Charlize Theron is a "dramatic center for the film." Throughout the film, her character demonstrates the physicality of a hero committed to a rescue mission. Sarah Stewart of IndieWire writes: "in the end, the movie...sets up the start of a matriarchal society as an antidote to the barbarian, warlike tribes that came before". These elements contrast this film with the male-centered hero in the previous Mad Max films.
Theron's character, Furiosa, "has a shaved head..a fierce leather outfit..a mechanical arm she jerry-rigged from salvaged tools," and "is a sharpshooting powerhouse who can also handle an 18-wheel war rig charging through the desert." She is "a female road warrior." Throughout the film, Furiosa "is a character exactly equal to Max." Furiosa and Max are presented as protagonist/antagonist.
Kyle Smith of the New York Post said that the title character, Mad Max, is "actually a secondary figure" in a film that is not about a roaming Max Rockatansky. Instead, the movie is "actually" about a "feminist revolt led by Imperator Furiosa" against Immortan Joe.
Further themes pointed out by critics have included vengeance, solidarity, home, and redemption. In his review of Mad Max: Fury Road, film critic A. O. Scott wrote: "The themes of vengeance and solidarity, the wide-open spaces and the kinetic, ground-level movement mark Fury Road as a western, and the filmmakers pay tribute to such masters of the genre as John Ford, Budd Boetticher and, not least, Chuck Jones, whose Road Runner cartoons are models of ingenuity and rigor." Similar to the previous Mad Max films, home has been regarded as a central theme in Mad Max: Fury Road as it dominates the motivations of Max, Furiosa, and the Five Wives: his home was destroyed, she was taken from her home, and the wives are in search of a new home to raise their children. The unity of these characters also harnesses a concern for family, a common theme within Miller's filmography.
- George Miller – director, producer, writer
- Brendan McCarthy – writer
- Nico Lathouris – writer
- Doug Mitchell – producer
- P. J. Voeten – producer
- Iain Smith – executive producer
- John Seale – cinematographer
- Colin Gibson – production designer
- Jenny Beavan – costume designer
- Margaret Sixel – editor
- Junkie XL – music composer
- Main article: Mad Max: Fury Road (soundtrack)
- Main article: Mad Max: Fury Road (comic book)