A few weeks ago we did a Round Table reaction on the trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road. I was excited when the trailer was released and I was hyped today waiting to see the movie. At the time, I didn’t think too much changed between The Road Warrior and this new incarnation. Boy, was I wrong. A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same.
Yes, there are vehicles, crashes, and explosions. In true George Miller-Mad-Max style, it’s all over the top. Vehicles scrapped together from the wreckage of the old world collide together in glorious fashion. Dune buggies, outfitted with giant spikes, and motorcycles jump over trucks and cars to fling down makeshift grenades. The chases and the wrecks are spectacular. I’ll bet my next A Mind On Fire paycheck the stunts were all real. Unfortunately, we only see Max’s Interceptor Pursuit Vehicle for a brief moment until it’s demolished and then later for another brief moment before it’s totally destroyed.
The oddball characters we’ve come to expect in a Mad Max movie are all present, but made even odder for Fury Road. There are War Boys (who strike a very similar resemblance to Scrooloose from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome) who long to die in battle before they die from birth defects. There’s the Bullet Farmer and The People Farmer who serve Immortan Joe, but ultimately meet bad ends. The list of crazy characters is as long as my are. However, my favorite is the guitar player blasting out riffs of fire in front of a wall of speakers.
It would be easy, very easy, to say Mad Max: Fury Road is two hours of high-octane action. It would be easy and it would be true, but there’s more going on in Fury Road than car crashes and explosions. There’s something underneath all of the action that makes Fury Road a little more disturbing than any of the other summer’s blockbuster movies.
Is it Tom Hardy’s Max? Hardy, who has a handful lines the entire movie, plays Max as a psychologically wounded warrior/survivor of the wastelands. Hardy has always brought a vulnerability to the roles he’s played, but in Fury Road he brings the vulnerability to the foreground. Everyone is a little wounded in Max’s world, however, Max has internalized the pain and suffering while others have made the pain apart of an external show. We’re clued into the source of Max’s pain through flashbacks of his dead wife and daughter. At the same time, Miller has tied the new film into the first Mad Max movie. Keen eyes will notice the flashback of Max’s wife being run down is the scene where she is run down by Toecutter and his ruffians in Mad Max
Maybe it’s Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne (Who also played Toecutter in Mad Max). Joe controls the water so he controls the wasteland and everyone in it for the most part. He’s a prophet like character who spews the greatness of being a warrior and going to Valhalla. However, that’s not what makes Immortan Joe disturbing. What makes Joe disturbing is the fact that his Warrior Boys and his brides are actually his children.
Some people may argue against this point of view, but they’re not looking close enough. The row of women we see nursing babies are wet nurses. They take care of the babies so Joe’s brides can keep breeding. Joe’s not chasing his Brides because he cares for them, but because they’re pregnant with his children. A boy adds to his army and a daughter adds to his “brides.” Immortan Joe’s army is fielded by his sons and his brides are his daughters. When you stop to think about it it’s a pretty disturbing situation all around.
Perhaps it’s Nux, one of Immortan Joe’s War Boys. It’s clear from the start Nux and the other Warrior Boys have been brainwashed to live and die for Immortant Joe. In the beginning, Nux is ready to die only to be born again. By the end of the movie he’s seen there’s another way, a new hope in the wastelands. Maybe his tragic end is what’s disturbing about Fury Road?
It could be Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron at her brutal best), who starts the whole darn thing off when she decided to steal Immortan Joe’s brides. Maybe it’s because the redemption she was seeking, from what we never really learn, seems to be lost when she learns the home she was abducted from no longer exists. Or it could be that her family reunion is short lived.
It could even be that when Max, Furiosa and the rest win it doesn’t really seem that they have won anything. In my book, is as disturbing as it is tragic.
Whatever the case may be, Mad Max: Fury Road will make you feel something inside and think more than any other movie you’ll see this summer.