Leave it to a veteran to show the young sparks how to do it: it's been 30 years since George Miller last visited his post-apocalyptic hero Max Rockatansky, and now he's back with the best-staged action thriller of the year, a blockbuster that dares to have meaningful themes and complex characters. He also recreates Mad Max as a kind of James Bond franchise with a story that sits alongside the earlier films, not before or after, and an actor who brings a new energy to the role.

In a desert wasteland where people trade water and oil to survive, Max (Tom Hardy) is a loner haunted by the death of his family. Then he's captured by a gang from the Citadel, a towering rock city run by the tyrant Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), who has positioned himself as a god who keeps his enslaved people on a short leash. On a mission to collect oil, Joe's top imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) veers her war-rig off into the desert. So Joe sends a gang after her. Leading the charge is the gung-ho Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who uses Max, strapped to his car like a grille ornament, as a blood-bag to supply energy. But after a series of clashes involving three other gangs of desert marauders, Max and Nux end up on board Furiosa's rig, in which she is hoping to smuggle Joe's five young wives to safety.

The plot itself is fairly blunt, which means that the film requires very little dialogue (Max doesn't speak at all for the first 45 minutes, mainly because his houth is actually bolted shut). Even so, Miller fills every shot with telling details that strengthen the characters and provide insight into what they are doing, building more intriguing relationships with suspicious glances than most filmmakers do with endless conversation.

Continue reading: Mad Max: Fury Road Review