Mad Max: Fury Road

⭐⭐⭐ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: Action-packed, with some intense car chases and choreography, and more character depth than it needed, but still little more than an excuse for some body horror and extreme violence.


Mad Max


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Disclaimer: I've never seen any of the Mad Max franchise before. From what I gather, Fury Road is supposed to be the best of the bunch; if that's true, I don't think I'll rush out to see any of the others. I don't think Fury Road is a bad film, but I also can't imagine being able to make much better with this source material, and it's already stretched fairly thin at this point, so yeah...

Here's what I did like: the cast are brilliant. Charlize Theron is great, managing to imbue a fairly 2D character with a lot of interesting nuance. Nicholas Hoult is a brilliant fanatic having his eyes opened to his own zealotry. Tom Hardy is a lot of fun as Max, even if he gets even less characterisation than Theron (and I could ultimately have done with more of her and less of him from a plot perspective). And everyone else does the best with what they're given. On top of the cast, I thought the plot had much more depth than I would have expected. Ultimately, this is a franchise about body horror, ridiculous car chases, and the worst elements of humanity, so anything beyond an endless chase sequence with grotesque character designs was welcome, and Fury Road does at least attempt some interesting world-building and environmentalist narratives, even if the result is fairly on-the-nose and lacking in nuance.

And then, of course, there is the aesthetic. Again, I don't think a film could do this style – whether that's set design, costumes, choreography, or any other element – better than what Fury Road pulls off. It's diesel-punk, dystopian, 80s BDSM body horror to the absolute max and I totally get why it got the Oscar nod as a result. As for the action sequences, they're brilliant. Unrelenting, yet they never feel over-done, and manage to stay fresh and inventive without too much ridiculousness. The stick boyz at the end were perhaps a step too far, but I'll forgive them that just because it was pretty fun to watch. VFX and camera work throughout these sequences are incredible, as well.

But, still, there's not a huge amount more beneath the surface. I've seen a lot of people talk about how Fury Road is a progressive and even feminist film, and I think that's probably a stretch. Sure, it passes the Bechdel test, but that's a low bar. At the most charitable, you can definitely say that Furiosa is a solid female lead, and it's refreshing to see a female-led action film of this calibre. Yet ultimately, the reasoning behind her involvement is still a fairly gender-specific one: a harem of models being used as baby-makers who she decides to break free and return to her all-female clan of environmentalists. Yeah, it's not exactly a riot of gender-politics freedom. (And that's before you get into tired tropes of pregnancy during high-stress moments, models getting the wet t-shirt treatment, or how quickly the supposedly badass female clan get picked off at the end)

For an adrenaline-filled ride, Fury Road was fun. I'm glad I've seen it. I don't think I need to rewatch it in the future, and I doubt the rest of the franchise has much more to offer.

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