Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Title: Mad Max: Fury Road
Release Date: 7 May 2015
Director: George Miller
Production Company: Village Roadshow Pictures | Kennedy Miller Mitchell | RatPac-Dune Entertainment[

I’d avoided Mad Max: Fury Road because I have little to no taste for the post-apocalyptic genre.  Typically these type of stories celebrate the rugged individual surviving at the expense of others rather than forming community supports which is documented as the real way that humanity has always survived cataclysmic events.  If you’ve seen Mad Max: Fury Road, you’re probably laughing now, since the key message of the movie is in fact that community and cooperation are to be valued over self-interest.  That’s what I get for judging a movie by the cover.

The movie is nevertheless quite intense and almost its entire run time is made up of a chase of modified trucks and cars through the Australian outback.  As the movie begins, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a rugged solo survivor is abducted by the minions of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).  Joe is a warlord who controls a source of water and created an army of devoted soldiers to protect and extend his interests.  One of his lieutenants, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) goes rogue and liberates the five young women Joe enslaved for the reproductive capabilities (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton .  Max finds himself in the chase because he gets used as a human “blood bag” to provide transfusions to a sick War Boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Over the course of the chase, Max and Furiosa find themselves working together toward their common goal of escaping Joe and gradually growing to trust one another.

There is a lot in this movie that I didn’t understand and I don’t know if watching the earlier three Mad Max movies would clear things up or not (I’m not planning to go out of my way to watch any Mel Gibson movie). Regardless, I think the disorientation is beneficial to creating this alien post- apocalyptic future.  There was a lot with this movie I struggled with.  For one, it is extraordinarily violent with dozens of characters killed violently on screen.  There also is a lot of disturbing body horror.  Finally, I found it less than plausible that the heroes in this movie could suffer so much physical trauma and keep getting up and fighting again.

That being said, the chase is quite thrilling, and all the more the benefit of being made with practical effects.  All the vehicles were actual functioning machines and the majority of stunts were performed by human beings rather than their CGI avatars.  The movie also does not lack in humor.  My favorite minor character is the Doof Warrior (iOTA), a blind man on a truck covered with amps who persistently plays heavy metal guitar solos throughout the chase.  The feminist themes of the movie are quite obvious but worth noting since they stand out as unusual in an action film. Theron’s performance as Furiosa is particularly commendable as she is able to shed the “strong woman” stereotype for a more fully realized protagonist.  Despite Max’s name in the title, this is Furiosa’s movie and she does a great job with the character arc.

Rating: ****