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Mad Max Fury Road: the TG review

Published: 14 May 2015

Do you like cars? Do you like car chases? Good. Because Mad Max: Fury Road - out in cinemas nationwide today - is, in essence, a two-hour car chase with a movie loosely attached.

Dialogue? Not so much. Plot? Minimal. Rat-rodded, spike-covered cars, smashing into each other and exploding? Check, check and check.

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This is not intended as a criticism of the fourth film of the Max saga. Fury Road bills itself as a turn-everything-up-to-11 petrolhead epic, and delivers wholehearted on that promise. The budget, we're told, was some $150m. We imagine the majority of this was spent on gunpowder.

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But even if you arrive at Fury Road expecting car chases and explosions, you'll still be shocked by quite how many car chases and explosions there are. Actually, that's possibly inaccurate. In truth, there's only one car chase and one explosion during Fury Road, but both last for a solid 120 minutes. This film makes the recent Fast And Furious installments look like a particularly sedate episode of Downton Abbey.

The storyline, such as it is, doesn't take long to summarise. Act One: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron Nicholas Hoult and a bunch of supermodels (yep, really) charge across the Australian desert in a ‘war rig', pursued by a deranged mob of pirates on old hot rods, scrambler bikes and an assortment of other apocalyptic metal. Act Two: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult and a bunch of supermodels turn round and charge the other way back across the desert, pursued by a deranged mob of pirates, etc etc.

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There's a lot of fire, a lot of death and a lot of petrol. There's a gang of old ladies on motorbikes. There's an extended sequence in which men spit fuel into carb intakes to increase horsepower. It's utterly relentless and utterly bonkers, gleeful in its over-the-top-ness.

Fury Road is also, quite clearly, the work of a team with real love for cars. Colin Gibson and his team of ‘salvage artists' cooked up no fewer than 150 hand-built, dystopian vehicles for Fury Road, and every one is rendered in gloriously dilapidated detail.

The cars are ratty yet oddly exquisite, the true stars of the film. The Ford Falcon XB from the original Mad Max returns, alongside a 1932 Chevy five-window coupe. There are Plymouths and old Caddys and big-rig trucks, many V8s and a whole bunch of exhausts.

It's Scrapheap Challenge does Hollywood, a desert breakers yard welded into a road-going army. Yes, there's plenty of CGI at play, but the machinery feels oily and dirty, as gritty and unshaven as Tom Hardy's grunting, monosyllabic Max.

If you want a slice of wry social commentary and slow-burning drama, Mad Max: Fury Road may not be the film for you. If you want a psychedelic, brain-bashing car-orgy that has you leaving the cinema shaking as if you've downed half a dozen espressos, faintly unsure at what you've just witnessed, Fury Road does exactly what it says on the burnt, rusty tin. Just don't expect too much in the way of realism.

Oh, with one exception: after all the smashing and exploding and fire, the only surviving car is a mutated interpretation of a W124 Mercedes. Apt, no?

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