Sunday, 26 June 2016

film review: Mad Max Fury Road

Max [Tom Hardy] is mad, roaming the desert all hairy and wild. He is captured and taken to the Citadel for use as a universal blood donor. But when truck driver Furiosa [Charlize Theron] helps five slave-wives escape, all hell breaks loose. The War Boys, taking a bound and muzzled Max along as donor/mascot, chase after Furiosa and the oil truck she is driving away with the wives. Max escapes, and joins a suspicious Furiosa. They team up to outrace the War Boys to find the Green Place. But they find something rather different.

This is fast and furious. The first half of the film is a chase across the desert, gun blazing, cars and trucks crashing, and the second half is a chase back across the desert, gun blazing, cars and trucks crashing. There is very little let up, very little dialogue, and much very well done CGI and SFX.

Given how little dialogue there is, it might seem surprising that this film easily passes the Bechdel Test. Yet what little dialogue there is, includes several scenes of Furiosa and the wives (who do have names) talking about freedom, the past, and what they might find at the Green Place. Max himself doesn't even speak until well into the film, once he has managed to remove his muzzle.


One might even call this a feminist film. Furiosa is an excellent character: tough enough to drive the oil truck under fire, a better shot than Max (I love the scene where he shoulders the gun), compassionate enough to help the slave-wives to freedom, and definitely in charge. Of course, this is all set in a world that is a non-feminist post-apocalyptic hell-hole. There is a small gynocracy at the Green Place, which allows several older women to have strong parts, until Furiosa and Max bring the War Boys down on them, that is! In fact, there are more women characters with speaking roles than there are men.

This film also has an interesting take on disability. Furiosa is missing her left arm below the elbow, and has a mechanical prosthesis. This is never commented on by any of the characters; we just see her using her prosthetic arm and hand casually and competently, and it is woven naturally into the plot.

These features help pack a solid amount of plot in the film, which, given the continual adrenaline-packed wild chase scenes, and that lack of dialogue, is a remarkable achievement. A surprising amount gets communicated with just a grunt or a glance, to an audience who knows the context. This is an excellent addition to the series, if you like wild chases with lots of cartoon violence.



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