Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015, Australia/USA
Here’s a confession: I haven’t seen a single Mad Max film before seeing Mad Max: Fury Road. I had every intention of skipping it in theatres, but then I heard that it was a very feminist film, which intrigued me. I’m very glad I decided to see it.
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is a war rig driver for Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a twisted cult leader with 5 slave wives. She goes off-route, and it is revealed that she has escaped with his 5 wives. A desperate pursuit begins, and Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a young, brainwashed War Boy, is eager to capture the wives to gain favour with Joe. He uses an imprisoned Max (Tom Hardy) as his ‘blood bank’ during the pursuit. But Max escapes and decides to help Furiosa and the women escape.
Mad Max: Fury Road is very much over-the-top and is incredibly bizarre and deranged. But it’s incredibly well shot, and the character design is like nothing I’ve seen before. Director George Miller has created an incredible action film with memorable characters, stunts, and an excellent score. There is fairly limited use of CGI for a movie of this type, so most of the stunts, and explosions were real.
Furiosa is genuinely one of the greatest characters I’ve ever seen in an action film. She’s powerful, and determined, yet painfully, heartbreakingly vulnerable. While Max’s name is in the title, Furiosa is the real star of the film and it is her story. Max is simply along for the ride. Theron was wonderful, and Hoult gives a career best performance as Nux. He’s near unrecognizable.
For a long time, the portrayal of women, particularly in action films, has been problematic. But, I think this film will go a long way towards improving the writing and inclusion of female characters in films of this type. She’s a fully fleshed-out character who isn’t relegated to the ‘token girlfriend’ role, and she’s the one who calls the shots. I cannot speak highly enough of this film for its portrayal not only of Furiosa, but the five women she is rescuing, and the other women featured in the film.
Even if you haven’t seen any of the Mad Max films, Mad Max: Fury Road is worth seeing. I know I missed some references to the previous films, as well as the details of the source of Max’s torment, but in the grand scheme of things, it was a very minor thing that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the film.