Explosive start predicted for Mad Max: Fury Road

Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road. 

Pre-release tracking in the US suggests Mad Max: Fury Road will rev up a B.O. tally of upwards of $US40 million next weekend, possibly behind fellow opener Pitch Perfect 2.

That prognostication may seriously underestimate the drawing power of George Miller’s action-adventure, judging by the first batch of glowing reviews, social media chatter and high praise from one director who attended the premiere in Los Angeles. analyst Phil Contrino told Variety, “It’s poised to be the kind of movie where Thursday shows happen and people go nuts for it and it snowballs into a huge weekend.”

The fourth movie in the franchise follows Mad Max (Tom Hardy) as he becomes swept up with a group fleeing across the wasteland in a war rig driven by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). The mob has escaped a citadel tyrannized by the Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who portrayed the toecutter in the first Mad Max.

Roadshow is launching the $US150 million Village Roadshow Pictures/Warner Bros. co-production on Thursday. Here, Pitch Perfect 2 whistled up a boffo $10 million in its first four days, including previews, which eclipsed the original's $2.5 million debut.

Deadline's Pete Hammond enthused, "Max Max: Fury Road is a ride of a lifetime with true classic western sensibilities."  Hammond was impressed with Hardy's imposing presence despite minimal dialogue, and rated Theron's character as the equal of the male lead, a real departure for this type of testosterone-driven film.

An unabashed admirer of the director,  The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy observed, "This madly entertaining new action extravaganza energetically kicks more ass, as well as all other parts of the anatomy, than any film ever made by a 70-year-old — and does so far more skillfully than those turned out by most young turks half his age."

Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson described the film as a "daring, fascinating, thrilling jolt of original energy. It's invigorating the way a big cinema spectacular should be, revelling in the medium’s towering possibilities, and transporting us to a thoroughly realized world that’s wholly unlike our own."

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw opined, "Extravagantly deranged, ear-splittingly cacophonous, and entirely over the top, George Miller has revived his Mad Max punk-western franchise as a bizarre convoy chase action-thriller in the post-apocalyptic desert."

US-based Aussie director Brian Trenchard-Smith posted on Facebook, “Mad Max: Fury Road is a masterpiece of kinetic action and screen dynamics that will be hard to top.

“The audience at last night's premiere frequently roared their approval…. George's signature low angle pulse pounding mount shots and wide angle tableaux bursting with complex action choreography reaches its zenith in Fury Road.

“He uses very little CGI, more for enhancement than creating the impossible as per the current crop of soulless superhero movies. In Fury Road, you know the colliding flipping vehicular mayhem is REAL! In the close quarter combat scenes, he avoids the style du jour – a disjunctive blizzard of tight shots – in favor of giving the audience the geography of the fight, so the tight shots have more relevance and impact when they come. Again, making it REAL.”

Trenchard-Smith raved about the visuals from DoP John Seale (with whom he worked on 1983’s BMX Bandits) and the performance of Keays-Bryne (who starred in Brian’s The Man From Hong Kong in 1974).

“All in all, Fury Road is another triumph of Australian cinema craftsmanship,” he concludes.