Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Director: George Miller
Stars: Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy.
Mad Max Fury Road is the 4th installment in the Mad Max series. Fortunately it steps away from the lame Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome that starred Tina Turner and returns to the savagery of the first two films taking the brutality even a step further. The film is a disturbingly anarchic depiction of a post apocalyptic world. While it’s unrelenting in violence and brutality, fast and furious in its action, it brings with it something surprising, a fun and astute feminism.
Director George Millers vision of the future is not neon or high tech, its a gritty nightmare on a scorched planet post nuclear war. Yet it brings the desert alive with rich, deep colours. Petrol and water are scarce and valued commodities. Society has reduced itself to violent clans or lone wanderers. One clan is controlled by a gruesome warlord, the despotic Immortan Joe. His kingdoms centre is the citadel, where he keeps control of the water supply. He is a grotesque character. His ugliness unapologetic and pushing the boundaries of repulsive. Disfigured with pus oozing tumours he rules with a despicable, vile misogyny that manifests as a disease of society.
Protagonist Max is a side step from the archetypal strong silent type. He’s a messed up and tormented anti hero. His car is stolen and he’s captured by Immortan Joe. While Max is the title character of this film, he’s more of a self serving passenger rather than saviour, taking a backseat in the story, reluctantly embroiled in the fierce action, waiting it out till he can make his escape and make his own way again.
This story really belongs to Max’s sidekick Imperator Furiosa. She is a core member of Immortan Joe’s crew who goes rogue. She contrives to rescue the five brides/sex slaves of Immortan Joe and to secret them to the Green Place, a mysterious all-female oasis, essentially a mirage on the desert horizon.
Both Max and Furiosa seek redemption. While she is determined and driven, he has become quietly lost in the lunacy. She has a better handle on the horrors of what society has become and she takes control of the situation saving not only herself, but saving Max, her cadre of female characters and in essence all of society as she free’s it from Immortan Joe, the hideous figure of patriarchy.
The film was praised by critics and sets a high bar for the action genre. It is a heart pounding pedal to the medal ride. The cinematography is arresting. The performances are exceptional as expected from cast members like Charlize Theron. And above all, Mad Max Fury Road delivered a powerful message that made some audiences uncomfortable, that the “liberation of women is the liberation of everyone“.