Just got home from watching Mad Max Fury Road. I only remember fleeting parts of the original Mad Max. I do remember watching “Thunder Dome” as a teenager. Tina Turner was amazing in that. What I remember of both movies was fantastic, dark, gritty, and filled with action.
The new Mad Max carries a lot of those same qualities. Dark and gritty, filled with action. And it was amazing. A true action movie filled with all sorts of explosions, phenomenal chase sequence, and moments where you are just trying to figure out who is a good guy.
The story was more then just action though. There was a lot of great characterization (though little of it had to do with Max, himself.) But to talk about that, which I have to because I’m also a story teller, I’ll take you behind a cut since there are going to be spoilers.
(Click ‘read more’ to risk spoilers.)
The movie might be called “Mad Max”, and he really is going mad, but it doesn’t feel like he’s the main character of the story other then being the person who happens to be in 80% of the scenes. The scenes weren’t usually about him though, they were about his companions, or the action which everyone took part in. Max barely says anything throughout the movie, and his only real change in character by the end of the film is his trust and companionship with Furiosa, as well as gaining a little peace with his own demons by the end of the film.
The main female, Furiosa, was pretty awesome. Strong, determined, head strong, and powerful. A great female role model who doesn’t fall into the “train the man so he can save the day” category. No, she saves the day herself, a number of times, and even lets Max help now and then. But her character didn’t grow much except when it came to trusting Max, and changing her plans.
In fact most of the women in this are strong, determined, powerful women. Most of them can load weapons, shoot, are brave in the face of danger, etc. Only one tries to run back to her prison (Stockholm syndrome). It’s almost too perfect. You have these beautiful, skinny, perfect teethed women in this horrible desert environment, sheltered and given chastity belts, but they still know how to fire a gun.
I was actually more interested in Nux, the bad guy turned good. His story, his journey and complete change from reverent religious nut job to one of the renegades was the most compelling of ANYONE in the movie. His story touched me, I think, because he was a truly flawed character. He only wanted acceptance and love and he found it in a way he did not expect or seek out. His story actually kept my interest.
As an action movie, it was fantastic. As a movie that shows women can be powerful, it was great. As a story? It could have been better. But given the restriction of the two hour time slot, and the number of characters, and the fact that this was an action movie, I’m not holding it against them.
Mad Max can also be seen as a commentary on our environment, greed, global warming, water conservation, etc etc etc. The Mad Max world is post desertification, something that is actually happening to parts of our planet. Look no further then the spread of the Sahara desert to see that. They are trying to hold it back with green growth, but there is only so much they can do without a lot more effort.
But this story wasn’t preachy about feminism or saving the earth. It didn’t even directly mention any of it except for two line: “Who killed the world?” and “Women are not things!”
Looking around the web, of course men’s and women’s rights activist have latched onto this film as “it’s pro feminism.” It is, I’ll admit that. But I’m glad it wasn’t completely over the top and preachy about it. I do wish they’d given the women a bit more depth. A flaw. Something to over come. And I don’t think Furiosa’s disability was a good enough flaw to overcome since there was no overcoming it, it was just a part of her. She had a fake hand that worked and gripped things without thought. I rarely noticed her missing hand. The other women were just there most of the time, dodging bullets and maybe shooting a few of their own, but no flaws.
But I find it interesting that most people are latching onto this movie for the feminist plot line and totally ignored the fact that they were in a post global warming world. Look people, whatever else happens to men and women (and lets face it, EVERYONE was exploited in the mad Max world, male and female, this movie just focused on the breeders fighting to get free of it and totally ignored all the other poor saps used as blood bags and/or cannon fodder) the world was created because human beings killed the world and everything went to hell.
But let’s forget that and focus on the fact that Max doesn’t talk much and Furiosa can sure pack a punch.