By Piya Sinha-Roy
San Diego, July 26 (Reuters) - A dynamic new lead and an epic-scale chase will be at the center of the new "Mad Max" reboot, as Australian director George Miller reignites his explosive action thriller franchise as the fight for survival in the wasteland rages on.
"Mad Max: Fury Road," the fourth installment of the "Mad Max" franchise that began in 1979 with Mel Gibson in the lead role, saw a post-apocalypse dystopian Australia where police officer Max Rockatansky battles hardened criminals of the outback.
Time Warner Inc-owned Warner Bros' "Fury Road," due in theaters next year, is set 45 years in a post-apocalyptic future, and Miller said the whole film is a "105-minute chase scene through the wasteland."
"Everyone in the story is either a villain or a good guy; this is a very dangerous world and everyone you encounter could be out to kill you to simply to take what you have. So it's all survival," the director told Reuters.
The film has been about 15 years in the making, and Miller said that initially he was working with Gibson, but after 9/11, the project was scrapped. By the time the director picked it up again, Gibson was past the age he wanted Max to be.
"It's not about an old Mad Max, it's about the same Mad Max," he said.
British actor Tom Hardy picks up the mantle of Max, and Miller said he embodies many of the qualities he first felt with Gibson.
"They are (both) the guys who are very lovable, and at the same time they've got their dark side, and that contrast is at the core of their charisma."
Not much is known about the plot, but fans at San Diego's annual Comic Con were treated to exclusive footage on Saturday, which showed leading characters including Max and Nux, played by Nicholas Hoult, in action and explosion-filled clips.
Much of the first three films centered on the battle for energy resources and fuel, a conversation that was just beginning to gain traction at the time. Three decades later, Miller said, the same issues remain pertinent.
"I'm beginning to realize that's the nature of the world and humankind, and we're always fighting these kind of struggles, these tensions," Miller said.
"In many ways, the world is getting a lot better, but there's still lots of stuff out there that could go wrong."
Max, who becomes a lone, hardened warrior in his journey, will find himself once again caught up in other people's journeys and problems in "Fury Road."
Joining Hardy is actress Charlize Theron, who plays Imperator Furiosa, a character that Miller described as an "equal" to Max, and who leads a slew of female actresses in the film franchise that was previously male-dominated.
"She's just a hardcore warrior with a purpose and it's really the engagement of the two that is the central conflict that helps the story unfold," Miller said.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by David Gregorio)