When my dad first asked me to see the new Mad Max reboot with him, I firmly declined. What could be so inventive and new about a reboot from the 80’s that just replaced Mel Gibson with Tom Hardy?
Well, as it turns out, I was wrong.
Mad Max: Fury Road might be as inventive as big budget, smashy-smashy action flicks go. The film starts with Max Rockatansky as the protagonist, but pretty quickly becomes a totally different story led by the character played by Charlize Theron, Imperator Furiosa.
In standard post-apocalytic films, the roles of women are largely as “breeders” or “victims.” And while this film does reserve these roles for the women, especially the Wives and the milk-producing Mothers, the idea that these are the only roles for women in dystopian societies is turned on its head with the introduction of Furiosa, a character who has 1.5 arms AKA is differently-abled, is female and drives a war rig to get oil from other tribes. Furiosa is also angry but not bitchy. You find that Furiosa, who has been sent on a mission to get oil from Gastown, has stolen the demi-god Immortan Joe’s wives–all five of them–thus leading the primary conflict of the film. Once Immortan Joe finds out that Furiosa has absconded with his “treasures,” he leads his devoted male followers, called “War Boys”, on a car chase to rival all other car chases.
The theme behind Mad Max: Fury Road is the idea that unbridled masculinity will destroy the world. The film displays this exquisitely, almost mockingly. The caravan chasing Furiosa and the Wives is all tricked out vintage cars complete with a guitarist playing a flaming guitar. The War Boys want to die for the Immortan to get glory–they show no tenderness, no gentleness, nothing resembling empathy. They only experience rage and fury. In that order.
The Wives, meanwhile, are dressed in white scraps, and you find out that they’ve been locked up with demonic-looking chastity belts. They are tender and curious, but still fearless and intimidating. They admire Furiosa, and love her fiercely. She is their real savior, not Immortan Joe, who has falsely posed as a god for them for presumably much of their lives.
The movie isn’t just one long social commentary, though. It’s exciting, fun, funny at parts and boasts an insanely cool array of pimped-out cars. The best part? Knowing that nearly 90% of the effects were real. That flaming guitar? REAL!
And if you didn’t cry at this part…
You have no heart.