Mad Max: Fury Road
Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
Sequel to: Mad Max, Mad Max 2, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Courtney Eaton, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Nathan Jones, John Howard, Richard Carter, Jennifer Hagan, Megan Gale, Melissa Jaffer
Seen on: 18.5.2015
Max (Tom Hardy) is still wandering through the postapocalyptic desert when he is attacked and caught by a group of War Boys. They bring him to their home, where they are ruled by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Max is supposed to become a blood bank for one of the War Boys, Nux (Nicholas Hoult). But before that fate kills him, all the War Boys are sent out to go after Furiosa (Charlize Theron), one of Immortan Joe’s generals who took his wives and tries to bring them to the safety of her home town. So Max finds himself strapped to a car and right in the middle of a revolution.
Mad Max: Fury Road is probably the most entertaining of the Mad Max movies, well in the tradition of the last two Mad Max films with gorgeous visuals and excellent world-building and a surprisingly feminist outlook.
Even though the Mad Max aesthetic itself hasn’t changed that much in the past 30 years, Mad Max: Fury Road is certainly the most polished of the Mad Max films. Of course the technological advances make themselves felt (and the 3D was beautifully done), as does the bigger budget. But it is also a question of Miller growing as a filmmaker in the meantime and perfecting his skill at worldbuilding through (mostly visual) details. And they are everywhere. You’d probably have to watch the film much more than the one time I saw it to catch them all – and the beautiful thing is that nothing seems to be random here, it all adds to the set-up.
Fury Road also continues the tradition of Max stumbling into other people’s stories and revolutions and staying as long as he can help somehow. In this case, it’s Furiosa who is the actual protagonist and hero of the story. Max is only allowed to take part in it for a little while. Which means that a disabled woman who is never sexualized at all is the protagonist of an action film – and that already would put the film far beyond most action movies, from a feminist standpoint.
But they don’t stop there: Joe’s wives proclaim proudly “We are not things!” at the beginning of the film and they fight for their right to be their own person. That might not be the most revolutionary feminist content (there is no questioning of a heteronormative, two-gender system or anything like that), but it is still pretty amazing, especially since it is a film about fighting for freedom from sexual violence without any sexual violence happening on screen. It’s a film that makes (literally) toxic masculinity an issue. It’s a film that does without romance and, as I said, sexualization of the female body*/**. It’s a film that shows the process of a feminist revolution.
And all of that with an excellent cast, stunning visuals, fantastic pacing and, as mentioned already, the most beautiful world building that calls for further in-depth examination.
*One scene comes so close to fucking this up (the women washing themselves in the desert, wearing nothing much at all), and even there they manage to keep the balance and just show washing and not sexy washing.
**For full disclosure’s sake: I admittedly couldn’t help myself and sexualized Tom Hardy quite a bit. How is it possible to grumble-hum sexily?