It's been a long, hard road to get to the long, hard road of "Mad Max: Fury Road" — but we're almost there.
At San Diego Comic-Con, director George Miller and Warner Bros. brought the new "Mad Max" movie to fans, with never-before-seen footage that pulled the curtain back quite a bit on a film that's essentially just one gigantic chase sequence.
"The story popped in my head and just wouldn't get away, like an imaginary friend," Miller said. "I love chase movies; I think they're the purest form of cinema. That's where the film language started. I wanted to make one long, extended chase, and see what we could pick up about the characters along the way."
The "extended chase sequence" is on full display in the footage that Miller brought to Comic-Con. It begins with a long-haired Tom Hardy as Max, stomping on a lizard, then eating it. He hops in his muscle car and drives off into the barren desert — and before long, he's captured by monstrous looking thugs, who take him to their lair, shave his hair off, tattoo him and chain him up — complete with a muzzle that looks almost Bane-esque. Expect some "Fury Road"/"Dark Knight Rises" mash-ups come 2015.
The action picks up when Charlize Theron's Furiosa and her band attack Max's captors, instigating an insanely kinetic chase sequence with roaring muscle cars, exploding trucks, electric dust storms, flying bodies, and an entirely unrecognizable and crazy performance from Nicolas Hoult.
At one point, muzzled Max, chained to the back of Hoult's car, watches in awe as trucks and cars get swirled up into a flaming dust storm, exploding and sending bodies flying every which way. The shot is unflinching, the violence unforgiving; the scene seems to be on the edge of ending at every turn, but it just keeps going, getting more and more brutal and loud, until Hoult finally cuts the tension:
"What a lovely day," he shouts. "What a lovely day!"
It's just a taste of the non-stop action that Miller has in mind for "Fury Road." He said that it was a "crazy but interesting" experience to go back to the world of "Mad Max," but casting his three leads made the job much easier.
"People often say that 75% of your job is done as a director in the casting," he said. "I was waiting for someone like Tom Hardy to come along; he has all the qualities. And Charlize, when you get to see the movie, there are certain dimensions of Charlize that fit the character of Furiosa. And the same, in many ways, with Nick Hoult."
Miller said that he didn't want to make "Fury Road" in a conventional way; as such, rather than writing a script, he first teamed up with co-writer and artist Brendan McCarthy to storyboard the entire film "as one long comic book; it was 3,500 panels. There's not many words spoken in the movie. People only speak when they have to. I wanted to tell the story as best as possible in pictures."
Even with new actors and new technology, Miller said that "Fury Road" calls back to the themes and tone prevalent throughout "Mad Max," especially "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior."
"There's no rule of law. There's no honor," he said. "People are just surviving. It's like a Western: a very spare and clear movie. You can get away from all the clever."
"Mad Max: Fury Road" hits theaters on May 15, 2015.