Painted-white War Boys spraying their mouths with chrome paint and riding the Highway of Valhalla. Oh what a day. What a lovely day. Note there are a few spoilers in this review, but nothing significant; there’s little in this film to spoil. The plot is nil. But with the action, the post-apocalyptic richness, and utter rage of it all, there’s little plot needed. To be clear, I don’t often speak favorably of any story lacking in the plot department, but it works here. The movie is over-the-top; at times hilarious; but it does its over-the-topness oh so very well.
Truly, this movie will be a massive hit, and in some ways, sets a whole new standard by which to judge action movies. Watch and you’ll understand. Would I have preferred a well-developed plot? Probably, but that’d cut into the time devoted to action, which is all of it.
This is intentional, though. George Miller directed the first three movies in the Mad Max franchise. Fury Road is not a case where someone new takes an old series and unintentionally ruins it in the process. George Miller knows the Mad Max story better than anyone, and while Fury Road is different, your Mad Max-loving-self need not worry that the series is ruined. It’s not. George Miller stepped up to the task in a whole new way.
So What Is Fury Road?
Take the road chasing elements of Road Warrior and the post-apocalyptic Mad Max fashion of Road Warrior and Thunder Dome and inject it all with a heavy dose of radioactive steroids, and then more steroids, and then you have Fury Road. It’s a two-hour post-apocalyptic road rage party with guns, trucks, flames, muscle-bound War Boys, and half-naked breeder girls. There’s loud music: war drums and a screaming electric guitar flamethrower… no, for real, a screaming electric guitar flamethrower.
What’s not to love? You go from electric guitar riffs back to Charlize Theron shifting gears in the flat black “war rig” while Max sits on the hood spitting fuel into the blower. The movie has just one speed and that’s go! Unlike any other movie I’ve seen, anyway. It starts off fast and doesn’t relent. Sure, vehicles stop or get slowed down, but villainous exhaust-spewing muscle cars are always just in the distance so it’s forever right back to go!
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This movie, with all of its special effects, cinematography, loud music, and general insanity is made for the big screen. Hell, we even went 3D for this one, because it’s go big or go home, be a bear be a grizzly, drive a Mad Max vehicle make a diesel. If you wait for this film to hit your home television you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Fury Road has a skull-masked lead villain, Immortan Joe, who’s controls the water to a peasant-like population and who’s also hooked up to some hose-based breathing apparatus. There are other, similarly twisted and gross villains all surrounded by a mad pack of crawling, crazed, jumping, running War Boys. You’ve got a rich assortment of tricked-out vehicles; some with spikes, some with flames, some with massive saw blades that cut through other rides. Hanging off all of these pedal-to-the-metal war wagons are characters ready to jump from one vehicle to the next, head-butting their way through opponents while tossing grenade-like spears.
Throughout this epic Australian road race, the moviegoer sees different post-apocalyptic tribes and at times gets hints of a backstory (that never move beyond hints). Everyone wants something. Immortan wants “his” breeder girls back, breeder girls are searching for “the green place”, and Max wants his sanity. Good luck with that, Max. The only seemingly “sane” one in the film is Charlize Theron’s character Furiosa, which brings us to…
The Feminist Angle
Dubbed “Mad Max: Feminist Road” by the popular men’s rights site Return of Kings, the film has struck a nerve with many for its “feminist agenda.” Let there be no debate as to whether there are feminist elements to the film. It’s plain as day. The film kicks off with women taking a stand, freeing themselves from the clutches of their ugly, demi-god-like cruel “master” and leaving “We Are Not Things” scrawled on the cave wall as the one-armed Furiosa leads these innocent breeder girls on a race to safety. Along the way, these girls cut themselves free of their chastity belts, imply that men are the ones who ruined the world, and have their defining moment when they start loading rifles for their own defense.
Max has only a handful of lines (on par with most of the characters) and is in more of a supporting role to Theron’s Furiosa character. The women find their safety not with a sympathetic group of men, but with a small women-only tribe in Furiosa’s old home. Furiosa, for her part, drives a tanker not of high-octane fuel, but of breast milk, yes… breast milk, with which Max washes his face in. Furiosa turns out to be a better, smarter marksman markswoman than Max, and ends the film giving Max not a long hug goodbye, but a departing man nod.
No, the question is not whether there’s a feminist angle so much as: Who really cares? Pro-men activists are seemingly upset that they’ve been duped into seeing a testosterone-fueled manly movie only to find themselves sitting down to a feminist storyline. But again – who cares? Most movies have some angle or agenda, either direct or inherent. Does it matter that this movie paints women in a strong, positive way? Only men that fear such women would say yes.
But “manly men” need not boycott the movie as the Return of Kings writer suggests. There are still plenty of redeeming “masculine” qualities to the film. Did I not mention all of the tricked out vehicles, violence, rage, half-naked breeder girls, and the sight of Charlize Theron shifting gears? Dudes won’t be disappointed; and with the feminist angle, the ladies won’t be either. Check your male privilege at the door, suspend your desire to know Max’s story, and you’ll have a grand time. I promise. Mad Max: Fury Road gets a solid A.