New 'Mad Max' delivers a singular thrill - with high style

Thu May 14, 2015 1:25pm EDT
 
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By Michael Roddy

CANNES, France (Reuters) - "Mad Max: Fury Road" is a movie of singularities. "Furiosa Imperator" Charlize Theron is a woman missing a forearm, "Mad Max" Tom Hardy is a man of few words and the movie has basically one plot line -- stay on the road and keep fighting.

That may not sound like a recipe for the blockbuster of the summer. But the reboot of the 1980s dystopian franchise that powered Mel Gibson to stardom is expected to take $40 million at the U.S. box office for its opening weekend, starting on Friday.

After premiering in Los Angeles last week, it packed the biggest cinema of the Cannes International Film Festival on Thursday. An audience accustomed to arthouse films burst into applause for a chase scene involving steel-spike-studded attack vehicles that exploded like star fighters in "Star Wars".

Blink and you'll miss the opening that explains the world's post-apocalyptic state. But the original "Mad Max" films by director George Miller were never long on explanation for what turned the world into a wasteland, either.

Their selling point was showing how Mad Max would survive. He's back, looking even more resourceful, including performing a blood transfusion in the cab of a speeding, half-wrecked monster truck.

The original films were a smorgasbord for fans of demolition derbies. Miller, 70, has gone all out this time, with a fleet of hot rods scavenged from the wreck of the world that looks like Disney-Pixar's "Cars" animation on speed.

Two vintage Cadillacs bolted atop each other probably make the classiest ride. Heavy-metal fans will want the "battle of the bands" vehicle that features four "warboys" pounding drums and an electric guitarist whose instrument doubles as a flame thrower.

In the midst of this feast of high-production-value chase scenes, it's almost surprising to find that human life - a pregnant woman about to give birth, a shoot of a plant growing in an elderly woman's pocketbook - can survive.   Continued...

 
Cast member Charlize Theron poses during a photocall for the film "Mad Max: Fury Road" out of competition at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 14, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau