Fury Road is the 4th film in George Miller’s Mad Max saga and the only one I’ve seen, which is fine. Unlike flicks that exist to promote installments, Fury Road works on its own. The result–15 years in the making–is beautiful, near frame-to-frame obliteration deserving every sensational adjective around.
Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) is our villain, a decrepit white male with ancient values. He rules like Kony on high, employing an army of suicidal War Boys to chase our heroes on the Fury Road, resulting in what’s advertised: Some of the best, most acrobatic unpredictable action ever put on film. It’s so relentless that the first wave literally requires a blackout to let you catch your breath.
Then Max (Tom Hardy) and Furiosa (Charlize Theron) collide and we get a good look at Joe’s “wives.” You see, Furiosa fled with these women Joe had claimed as heir-bearers, and now Max is a threat to both them and their rig. Damsels in distress, barely dressed, breaking out of chastity belts. Also known as the exact scene you’d expect to see in a summer blockbuster, and Margaret Sixel, wife of George Miller and the film’s editor, knows that. So instead he destroys the patriarchal framework of the hero-led franchises you’ve come up on.
Consulted on set by Eve Ensler (author of The Vagina Monologues), the five wives shine with more depth than the titular star. There’s no spotlight on Max’s “Save-the-Day” moments. It’s not about him, it’s about redemption.
Their world’s been nuked to shit. Men are responsible, obviously. It’s echoed by battle sequences with the War Boys mindlessly huffing and hurtling themselves between Frankencars. Furiosa’s leadership can save them, but she’s repeatedly questioned by men. Enough is enough. On the rig, they’re all survivors following Furiosa’s orders. (“They” meaning: the wives, Max, Nux [Nicholas Hoult] and anyone else she befriends.)
In battle they have each others backs and carry their weight. There’s Top 10 plays for all involved without sexualization. Everything’s raw. It’s startling at first to see older women battling against these Cirque-du-Solei half-wits, but then I started to wonder, ‘why the fuck is this the first big-budget film to do it?’
It’s not overbearing, in fact there’s barely any dialogue. Miller let’s action amplify barbs while Director of Photography John Seale captures every ounce of these characters in his frames. Oh, and reserve Margaret Sixel the Oscar for editing what feels like the best two-hours a ticket could buy.
It’s everything you’ve heard and more. Worth writing a cliche-riddled post and worth telling all your friends about. A 70-year-old white dude from Australia made a feminist epic that doubles as the best movie of the year. He threw 150 cars at each other in a Namibian desert as a fuck you to CGI, speared Hollywood ageism with a flaming harpoon, and redefined what we should demand of female character writing. See it twice.