“My name is Max. My world is fire and blood.” The first sentence uttered in Tom Hardy’s guttural voice sets the tone for “Mad Max: Fury Road”, a two-hour chase across the dystopian Australian Outback. This world where survival is key is governed by a tyrant, Immortan Joe, in a make-shift war vehicle. He controls all the resources: water, bullets and gasoline.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is the fourth installment of the “Mad Max” franchise, led by director George Miller. The series takes place in a post-apocalyptic environment where the law does not exist and resources are scarce. In the beginning of the series, Mad Max starts as a law enforcer on the roads of the Australian Outback but slowly loses his hope for humanity and his ability to save the innocent from anarchy.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” has elements from the first movies such as the usual long car chases but also uses some more modern filming techniques. The action in the fighting, the driving and even just the movements of the characters seems accelerated. This works well with Max’s general agitation and animalistic behavior throughout the movie.
Max escapes the “Citadel” where Immortan Joe rules, and encounters a group of women, including Charlize Theron’s character Furiosa, escaping from the tyrant as well. Immortan Joe created this empire from a water source he controls. His followers revere him and they die for him. They capture people in the desert for their labor and their blood.
And this is where the movie was particularly interesting to me. The plot wasn’t about just Max escaping his role as a blood-slave anymore. It was about escaping oppression generally. Finding rebirth in destruction. Yearning to be more than just the tyrant’s possessions.
The relationship between Max and Furiosa never seems to develop into friendship, let alone romance. Neither of them can truly trust each other, and this makes for interesting chemistry between them. Their mutual desire of freedom is all they need to collaborate on driving across what seems like an entire continent of sand.
I saw Furiosa become the main character in Max’s place. Just enough information on her backstory is given for the audience to empathize with her. She feels a need to save the tyrant’s “treasures”, the women he keeps locked up deep in the Citadel, as she herself had been kidnapped by Immortan Joe as a little girl and was his prisoner for more than 7,000 days. And even though the women are being rescued, they are not passive. These women were written to be strong without emulating men’s behavior.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” marks a milestone in how to write female characters successfully in an action movie and I hope to see more of these in the future.
In a world of fire and blood, where rapid decision making can mean life or death, Mad Max survives once more. I recommend seeing this movie if boils, blood, dirt, violence, and sharp edges do not bother you.
Rating: 4 out of 4 stars.
Where it’s playing: Barkley Village, http://www.fandango.com/regalbarkleyvillage16imax26rpx_aawuf/theaterpage