This week I watched the movie Mad Max:Fury Road. I had heard a lot about this movie, that it was incredibly action packed, that it had stunning visuals, that it put every other action movie to shame, that it had in fact re-defined what it means to be an action movie. Pretty high praise. With a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I had high expectations.
Five minutes into the movie, I knew everything I had heard about it was true, and that my expectations were going to be met.
This movie grabs you with high energy kinetics right in the beginning, and pretty much never lets go. If you’ve seen the 1981 Mad Max movie “Road Warrior” and recall the intense chase scene at the end, imagine an entire movie like that. Now add in modern CG technology, and you’re getting close to what this movie is.
Like the old Mad Max movies, this one has a grim setting in a post-apocalyptic future. But where the old movies showed humans living in miserable conditions, this one shows them living in a setting that almost resembles a version of hell. After the opening sequence, Max wakes up a captive in the process of being tattooed and branded, and tries to escape, and the surroundings that he’s in seem like something out of Dante’s Inferno, with lost souls pursuing, and eventually recapturing him.
The majority of the characters in this movie are sick, deformed, maimed, or some combination of all of these. Only five women who are the villain’s “breeders”, a few women we meet toward the end, and (inexplicably) Max himself are whole bodied. Furiosa, the female protagonist played by Charlize Theron, is missing a forearm, although she often wears a prosthetic.
Don’t worry, the movie doesn’t give us a lot of time to dwell on that state of humanity. We see quick disturbing glimpses of it, but before we can really get too bummed, something attacks, explodes, or some other kind of mayhem ensues.
And if you heard about the consternation some of the men’s rights clowns had for this movie, you’ll know that Furiosa steals the show. The movie goes out of its way to make sure she is not a sex object. (Not that Charlize Theron doesn’t still manage to be attractive, in a grim sort of way.) She’s sporting a crew cut, is missing an arm, and generally behaves like a kick-ass warrior that just happens to be female.
Max himself barely talks. He is more a physical kinetic presence in the movie more than anything else. His character is pretty much what it was in ‘Road Warrior’ and ‘Beyond Thunderdome’, a loner out solely for himself, except taken to a much grimmer extent, with a similar arc. Tom Hardy makes this work extremely well.
The villain, Immortan Joe, is pretty much a Darth Vader type modified for a post apocalyptic environment. His chief concern throughout the whole movie is getting his breeder women back and his “property”, the babies they’re carrying. He does have some lines in the movie that I think will end up being quote classics. My favorite is this one, preached to his obviously starving and desperately desiccated subjects.
Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence.
One important thing to understand going in to this movie: don’t expect it to make a whole lot of sense. Either the apocalypse happened recently enough for a fairly young Max to have been a cop, or was far enough in the past so that only the elderly remember the old world; the movie implies both. Everyone pretty much wastes the two commodities that are supposed to be in short supply, gas and water, every chance they get. And just don’t think too hard about street vehicles driving around in a desert. This Honest Trailer does a pretty good job noting these issues. (WARNING: Spoilers.)
All that said, if you can suspend your disbelief, this movie is a lot of fun. I enjoyed it enough to watch it straight through three times, and for my old jaded self, that rarely happens anymore.