I have seen Mad Max: Fury Road four times in theaters since it’s release. That should mean you will either really trust what I have to say about this film, or completely discount it because clearly I’ve gone crazy myself. Who has the time/money/patience to see Mad Max four times in the theater? I did and I do not regret it, because each time I watched, I noticed important details that make this film so worthy of praise, attention, and hopefully some recognition. Not only is it one hell of a thrill ride, but this film makes several important statements about our world, the people in it, and the direction we are heading. If you haven’t seen the film yet or are still iffy, here are 10 reasons this film is worth watching (multiple times!).
- Charlize Theron proved she had considerable acting chops on Monster, and has been the saving grace for all sorts of so-so movies, but as Furiosa, Charlize is a heroine unlike any I have witnessed (and I see a lot of damn movies). She is an amputee, who’s post-apocalyptic gadget prosthetic ends up being the demise of the villain. She deliberately androgynizes herself, flattening her chest and donning a black, greased forehead like the other imperators. But make no mistake, Furiosa is high-octane female. One of her best moments, in her attempt to rescue Immortan Joe’s wives or “prized breeders” from the Citadel, is when she pulls the trigger on Max’s chin, not hesitating for a second to kill he who stands in her way. She is not without fear, as is clear from the terrified look of resolve we first see when she veers her war-rig off-road, but she uses that fear of failure to propel her onwards. Furiosa has more guts and bigger, dare I say, balls than all of the male characters combined. Her quest for “redemption” goes hand in hand with the fact that she appears to be Immortan Joe’s only female Imperator, a story that will hopefully be explained by Vertigo’s prelude comics (Furiosa #1 is out on 06/17).
- I don’t know where Tom Hardy came from, but his performances in movies like Lawless, Dark Knight Rises, and Mad Max prove that his style and range of acting is so advanced and crafty that all he need do is grunt to convey stark emotion. Much like parts of Lawless and the DKR, Hardy wears a face-obstructing mask for a large portion of the film, from behind which he still says more with his eyes than any dialogue. Max is indeed mad in Fury Road, but the cause and frequency of his madness (flashbacks of those he could not save) drive him barreling onwards into situations where truly only he could come out unscathed.
- War boys. I’ll get to Nux in a moment, but Immortan Joe’s War Boys as a collective are ferocious. Their fervor and palpable excitement to “do war” is revealing of many cultures that feverishly believe and follow those who might not be so deserving of devotion. Their white skin, skeleton-like facial scarring, cancerous tumors, and night-fevers are a peek into what “half-life” humans might be driven to in a post-apocalyptic world.
- Furiosa’s war rig. The war rig itself is a mother of sorts throughout the film. Despite all the abuses she suffers, her riders continually shake down to care for her, tend to her, and keep her going full-throttle. She is massive, powerful, and shelters all those who dare to take refuge within her. Her long back section is full of water, gasoline, and mother’s milk. Though seemingly rusted and cantankerous, the war rig is the ultimate mother of Fury Road.
- The physically repulsive nature of the villains. From the hog-like accountant (complete with showing nipple chains and elephant-like legs) to the first glimpse at the warts and blisters on Immortan Joe’s body, the villains in this film are beyond devious. They physically reflect their evils, gluttonous nature, and unclean methods of maintaining power. Joe’s two sons are physically deformed, rely on oxygen, and illustrate how perverse and incestuous the power ruling the Citadel truly is.
- The wives. Each with their own uncanny beauty and personality, they are the bright spots to Furiosa’s fierceness. They are not spoiled, selfish, or stupid, as beautiful creatures tend to be portrayed in film. They are gutsy, determined, and for the most part, unshakeable.
- The first time I saw Fury Road, I was a little scared of Nux, but he grew on me effortlessly. If we all had a little bit of Nux’s enthusiasm, the world would be a more passionate place. He so whole-heartedly takes to his causes, and not because he is a mindless zealot, but because he longs to do something great. Nicholas Hoult is incredible in this role, and his intensity is rivaled only by that of Max and Furiosa. He is truly fearless.
- The remaining women of the Many Mothers. Is there anything more badass than realizing that the motorcycles coming towards Furiosa are all women? They fight and fall with steel spines, and they fight to preserve nature. They are untrusting of men, as they have formed their own society that exists completely on its own. The joy in the scene where the mothers meet the wives is so sweet, a homecoming of daughters to mothers and hope itself.
- Furiosa’s seriously distraught moment when she realizes the green place is no more. Her utter exhaustion and despair gives me goosebumps. Charlize, you motherfucking beast of an actress. As Furiosa walks across the sand dune, she drops her prosthetic and falls to her knees. She is so pissed. That scene is human emotion as real as life and death. How it was captured on film astounds me.
- The ascension of the women and Max taking off to be Road Warrior once more. SPOILER. Max feels no need to stay and help do anything at the Citadel, as it should be. It is for Furiosa, the mothers, and the (now ex?) wives. No males needed to restore order and a prosperous society. Max’s final nod to Furiosa is one of humble gratitude for the redemption they found together.
I could really go on forever, but in case you missed my opinion of this film, it is ground-breaking and the messages to be taken from it are really worth investigating. As a society, we love to imagine a post-apocalyptic world, but Fury Road is different. It shows us the soul of humanity as it is now, and the potential for greatness and change even amidst destruction and turmoil. Sometimes, the way home is back. Back to nature, back to claim what has somehow been taken over by greed and fear. Let Furiosa teach us how to take what is pure away from those who should have no claim over it, and let’s use our own war-rigs to return to the green place. Redemption is possible, even if it means that it will “be a hard day.”