Post-Apocalyptic Movie Roundup: Mad Max: Fury Road

June 4, 2015

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-lovely-day

Film Facts:

Mad Max: Fury Road – released in 2015. Starring Tom Hardy as ‘Mad’ Max and Charlize Theron as Furiosa. Directed by George Miller. (Spoilers to follow.)

mad max helicopter shot over war party

The Apocalypse Scenario:

“As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy… Me, or everyone else.”

Set some time after the events of the original trilogyFury Road continues the bleak image of a nuclear wasteland. This time, however, civilization has begun to rebuild under the tyrannical rule of Immortan Joe. Joe lives in a rocky citadel filled with amenities like water, milk, gardens, and a harem. His empire is a cult, with an army of War Boys who believe Immoran Joe has the power to deliver their souls to Valhalla. We witness a stark contrast between the famished hordes below and the decrepit elite above.

mad max fury road citadel immoran joe

The Year:

Unknown. If the previous films were an alternate 1970’s and following, we can assume that the timeline is somewhat contemporary.

mad max fury road Immortan joe closeup

What They’ve Run Out Of:

Babies.
The Mad Max tagline has always been “water, bullets, gas.” Immortan Joe’s empire impressively has all these bases covered… except for healthy people. Miller conceived of a story where “violent marauders were fighting, not for oil or for material goods, but for human beings.” Mutation-free women for breeding and Max’s O-negative blood have become the most precious of commodities. Many characters from the citadel, especially Joe’s previous sons, have tumors or various defects and deformities. Immortan Joe needs a healthy child to continue his legacy and most of the film involves Joe’s attempt to reclaim “what is his.” The bride’s protest is “we are not things” and “our children will not be warlords.”

mad max and the brides

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

Redemption of the wasteland.
Almost every post-apocalyptic story involves the search for an oasis, preserve, or “safe-place” away from the wasteland (Waterworld, The Road, Walking Dead, etc.) Fury Road turns this trope on its head when the long-sought “Green Place” is desolate, and the only hope is in freeing the citadel from Immortan Joe. The result is a unique and hopeful note; even the corrupt and violent wasteland can be redeemed. Hope is not in escaping the world, but taking a stand against evil.

furiosa beats Max

Feminism.
In a genre seriously lacking in compelling female characters, Fury Road gives us the terrific, one-armed Furiosa (Charlize Theron) on a mission to save women from sex slavery. Even Max takes on a supporting role to Furiosa’s mission (instead of the “white man saves the day” trope). There are only a handful of explicit “feminist lines” (“We are not things”), preferring character interaction over heavy-handed cliches.The simplicity is brilliant here; there is no dialogue defending Furiosa’s identity as a woman warrior, or how she learned how to shoot so well, she simply does it. She is as self-sufficient and resourceful as Max is, and their redemption is in learning to trust one another. There is much that could be said on this topic and I highly recommend this article on ways Fury Road subverts movie sexism, and this article on heroic masculinity.

If I may emphasize anything here, its that the beauty of Fury Road is in its simplicity. To see Immortan Joe and his war boys as an elaborate personification of the white male patriarchy who must be overthrown and replaced with a matriarchy (because men are always evil and women are always benevolent) is grossly misreading the film. There are themes and real world parallels here, but we should remember that Miller’s words, and consultant Eve Ensler’s expertise, explicitly state that Fury Road is exploring how women are subjugated and abused in contexts like sex slavery and war zones. Perhaps a better analogy than first-world America is the very real sex slavery, harems, and torture of women by radical Islam and the religious justification of Jihad.

Mad Max and Furiosa

Isaac’s Rating:

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5 Zipped Lips – The quintessential action movie.

Fury Road’s success is in its unadorned plot, iconic imagery, strong characters, attention to detail, and relentless action. The trailer alone is a work of art. George Miller describes Fury Road as “a very simple allegory, almost a western on wheels.” Almost the entire movie is an extended car chase and an astonishing amount of the special effects are practical rather than cgi (about 90% according to Miller). Each vehicle is a moving set piece with real roadsters racing, crashing, and exploding. The tension begins in the opening credits and never stops. The result is a nail-biting, stomach wrenching, edge-of-your-seat experience. Fury Road stands as one of the best in the post-apocalyptic genre.

mad max fury road big rig explosion

There you have it, fans, Mad Max: Fury Road. Do you agree, disagree? Comment below! Don’t forget to check out our other movies in our Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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3 Responses to “Post-Apocalyptic Movie Roundup: Mad Max: Fury Road”

  1. Isaac Says:

    Here’s a great video on why the action is so easy to follow:
    http://petapixel.com/2015/05/31/the-center-framed-style-of-mad-max-fury-road/

  2. greercn Says:

    I loved your review! I enjoyed this movie much more than I expected to, although I missed Mel Gibson’s wildness. I always wondered what Miller might do with a much bigger budget, and now I know.


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