“Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves.” –The First History of Man
Walking into Mad Max: Fury Road, I heard two things: 1) “something, something, Mad Max is feminist propaganda” and 2) that “Charlize Theron is a mother f*cking badass in Mad Max!” Two very conflicting reviews, so as a pro-feminist scholar and a huge action film fan myself, of course I had to go see the movie. But I didn’t leave the theater so much upset that Mad Max was supposedly “feminist propaganda” as I did astounded at just how incredible it really was from start to finish; to be cliché: there’s never a dull moment.
Mad Max lacks any “real” dialogue whatsoever (Max, played by Tom Hardy, can barely speak; you might recognize him from The Dark Knight Returns as another non-speaking villain Bane), and every five seconds there’s CRAZY stuff going on: war machines shooting out fire rockets, a “post-apocalyptic drummer boy” named Coma-Doof Warrior playing a flame-throwing guitar (he’s basically the Guitar Hero avi and it’s the best part of the entire movie), you’re just so wrapped up in the road chases you barely have time to think about just how freaking spectacular it is until the credits start rolling and it’s just like, “damn, can we do that one more time?!”
The story begins with Max overlooking an empty deserted apocalyptic wasteland. When he sees a moving vehicle in the distance he makes a run for it, but he doesn’t get very far. In this near-future setting after nuclear warfare has destroyed most of the planet, water is scarce (it’s actually called “Aqua Cola”) and there are no civilizations left, only rebel groups lead by creeps like the half-human Predator-esque Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who controls a tiny village—and who has just gotten hold of Max.
Immortan Joe and his “kingdom” are selfishly using the last of Earth’s already depleted resources for their own sick and twisted pleasures (think: Marie Antoinette days but 1000x worse), and their trusted driver Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is set to ride the war rig and deliver an important fuel supply decides to make her own escape of redemption to The Green Place where she lived as a child—bringing along the evil ruler’s 5 wives along for the ride.
The movie is extra special because the stunt work overtakes any CGI-like appearance you normally see in action films; to be extra nerdy with it, George Miller’s work falls under the Ozploitaton genre mastered by Brian Trenchard Smith back in the 1970s and 1980s. I have never seen the three previous installments, but you don’t really need to in this case. Oh, and the movie is ANYTHING *but* feminist “propaganda”; unless you consider the part played appropriately by Theron kicking straight up ass (with only one arm, might I add!) “propaganda”.
There’s nothing else I will say because I think I have set you up perfectly to go see the Mad Max: Fury Road at least twice (in IMAX if you can!).