I consider pure action movies to be my least favourite movie genre but when I heard about the overwhelmingly positive reviews for Mad Max: Fury Road, it was a risk worth taking. Best case scenario: I’d open up to a genre that I usually avoid. Worst case: I lose a few hours of my life.
The film, directed by original Mad Max director George Miller, stars Tom Hardy as Mad Max, a man experiencing recurring flashbacks over the loss of his wife and daughter during the apocalypse. While trying to flee from the War Boys, Max is captured and used as a blood bag for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who – along with an army under the rule of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) – is after Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who has gone off route of her mission with Joe’s five wives, who are used for breeding.
The film is essentially a two-hour chase scene with Furiosa driving her epic War Rig across the vast empty desert with Joe and his men in hot pursuit, with different obstacles along the way. The minor and seemingly minute details are where the movie truly shines with its insane creativity. In particular, the in-film chase music – which is pure rock ‘n roll – is when going completely over-the-top makes for a wickedly epic ride. The initial shot of the Doof Warrier (iOTA) is one you cannot miss!
Admittedly, Fury Road isn’t heavy on plot once it gets going and as such, starts to feel long about halfway through – I was surprised to find afterward that it was only two hours. Those in it for the action will get their fair share and then some, but it reaches a point where the entire journey begins to feel pointless so the action is what carries it all home.
As is every shot of Theron, Keays-Byrne and Hoult.
The film is being hailed for its feminist undertones, and as a result it’s also being criticized for forcing feminism on movie audiences. Is it because the story is essentially about saving women whose sole purpose of existence is to breed, or because the film’s highlight is a female actor? Or is the criticism there only because self-professed feminist groups praise it? Are people really that petty? Really?
I can confidently say if Charlize’s character wasn’t in this, Mad Max wouldn’t have been as great as it was. Not because of any feminist point-of-view, but because having her builds such a stronger case for the plot that wouldn’t be possible if it consisted only of male fighters. And if it’s really as big a deal as it’s being made out to be, there’s so much potential for the genre as a whole because of the untapped nature of female actors in lead roles in action films. Feminism or not, this is logical and just plain smart for filmmakers and audiences alike.
Mad Max: Fury Road doesn’t quite reach the best case scenario I had set out for it. I’m unlikely to jump on the action movie wagon anytime soon, but I did enjoy it. It had enough of a plot to keep me invested with action that wasn’t just for the sake of having every explosion outdo the last one. It was a journey well done.