Feminism packs an almighty punch in George Miller’s marvelous return to the world of Mad Max.
Last time we saw Max Rockatansky, he was then Mel Gibson, and he was facing off against Tina Turner’s Aunt Entity in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome (yes, it’s as bad as it sounds). After 30 years, Max has made his long-awaited return, and it’s absolutely spectacular. Fury Road is not so much a sequel to the original trilogy, more a reimagining; Max (Tom Hardy) joins forces with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to escape the clutches of evil tyrant, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).
Visually, Fury Road is an absolute tour-de-force, the set pieces are stunning, and the Namib Desert (where the vast majority of the filming took place) is the perfect location to show the apocalyptic dystopia that Miller is trying to pull off. The action sequences are a delight; I don’t think I’ve ever been so astounded by what I was witnessing, only the biggest screens will do this film the justice it deserves.
This is, if you will, a feminist action film, whilst Hardy plays the titular Max, it is Theron’s Furiosa that is the real hero of the story. Max often takes a back seat to his female ally, offering to fix up the truck whilst she successfully fends off the bad guys. In a way, the story of the film focuses on Furiosa, it is a story of feminism overcoming masculine oppression and Max is really just a passenger to Furiosa’s raging ride of avenging redemption. On top of that, Max probably has around twenty lines in the entire film, that is not to say it is a bad performance, Tom Hardy is more-than solid, he adds a quirky sense of nervousness to his role, and Max is constantly brooding, seemingly grunting before and after every line.
Miller stays relatively loyal to his original trilogy, the Outback is swapped with the Namib Desert but this is still an Australian film, many of the unknown actors and actresses that appear are Australian, and there is even a return for Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the spectacularly deranged Toecutter in the original Mad Max. Visually, it’s more reminiscent of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and although that was far-and-away the best film of the original trilogy, Miller’s fourth installment is far superior.
If there was one complaint of the film, it would be that there is a severe lack of depth in the storyline and its characters. For example, Max is frequently haunted by his past, by a life he could not save (perhaps his daughter), but this is not really addressed or explained so we don’t know for sure. The film could have also benefited from developing the story of Furiosa and of the women she is trying to save, amongst them, a heavily pregnant Rosie Huntington-Whitely
Mad Max: Fury Road really is a spectacular action film, it doesn’t let up for a second in its two-hour running time, it’s a relentless ride through Miller’s crazily wonderful imagining of a not-too-distant future. 2015 is the year of the action film, and Avengers: Age of Ultron set the bar extremely high, but Miller’s film just raised it to dazzling heights. Over to you, Jurassic World.