I’d heard so many positive comments about Mad Max: Thunder Road (2015; dir. George Miller) that I came to the film with great hopes of, at least, an entertaining two hours. It showed up on a number of high profile "Best Films of 2015" lists. How could I lose? It was a dismal time.
There is a plot here, tenuous enough that you hardly notice it. It is a plausible justification for what actually occupies the screen for most of the film’s duration: huge trucks powering across dusty, empty red deserts at high rates of speed. Occasionally there are human refugees left over from whatever apocalypse destroyed the world. They have all reverted to the kind of savagery we see in Lord of the Flies, or in Mr. Kurtz’s “unspeakable rites” of Heart of Darkness. A few of these remaining savage humans are somewhat less benighted than the others. They are our heroes. Furious driving, bomb blasts, bullets, and ingenious Rube Goldberg engines of destruction abound. So do bizarre costumes and facial makeup. And, inexplicably, there are diaphanously clad vestal virgins, the future consorts of the evil villain who’s only slightly more evil than everyone else. What a snore.
Paucity of gasoline seems to be an issue. Yet in transporting precious gasoline back and forth across the deserts, our characters expend incredible amounts of it in their speedy trucks. What a snore.
Mad Max is the apocalypse as a 14-year old’s wet dream cartoon nightmare. My favorite elements of the film were the names of the main characters: Tom Hardy plays Max Rockatansky, while Charlize Theron, hardly recognizable, is Imperator Furiosa. The evil villain is Rictus Erectus. Happy days are here again.