dir: George Miller, 2015
There are times where hype is too much. And when said hype is often loud and wrong.
Whether a film studio has bought reviews to boost sales, or people are painfully misguided (I’m looking at you Twilight fans. Admit it: your beloved franchise is a steaming pile of Ostrich droppings), hype as a form of communication is often, well, overhyped. The hyperbolic machine of the Social Media Age hath wrought upon us a fervent beast of media that zaps us of any agency and forces umpteen amounts of opinions that aren’t our own in front of us. It’s sad. And it frustrates me….even as I type an opinion that I want you to read and share with your franz.
Again, I don’t write without self-awareness.
But, what I’m trying to get at is this: we’re oversaturated, so please be discerning in how you consume the thoughts of others. It’s for your own good, I promise.
It was under this thought-cloud that I approached Mad Max: Fury Road. With a (then) current rating of 99% on RottenTomatoes, I felt behooved to be even more curmudgeonly than my usual. Because reasons. In fact, my fellow viewer for opening night and I had an avid discussion trying to parse why this film had such a high rating less than 48 hours after its release to the public.
Funnily enough, we both were in for the dopest surprise. Because Fury Road not only lives up to the hype; it vindicates it wholeheartedly.
Based on the original span of films starring
angry racist actor Mel Gibson and directed by Australian George Miller, Fury Road follows Max (Tom Hardy) as he assists Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in delivering a group of sister-wives from the diseased and forever sinister Immortan Joe. Without giving too much away: massive shenanigans occur (as they do in post-apocalyptic deserts.) And they’re all fuckin’ awesome.
Fury Road is an epic, ostentatious action film based on large sequences and movement. I use the word ostentatious in the best way possible, though: the film wants you to really feel and know that blood, fire, sweat, and tears went into the making of some of these scenes. As such, it throws you into the fray at every available turn. And even more so, should you watch it on IMAX or in theaters period, Miller & co. will wow you. This is because, for such a large film (in scale and length,) Fury Road is able to make you feel things viscerally, crafting intimate moments within fiery chaos.
For example, the final chase scene involves a continuous road battle between two-ish caravans. Radioactive hooligans careen through the air, projectiles launch every which-a-way, all attacking Furiosa and her ilk whilst Max plays defense. In an artfully subjective moment amidst this, Max has a vision and raises his hand at the exact moment that he’s shot at. An 18-inch bolt is then lodged in his hand, pinning it to his forehead, palm out. The scene itself only lasts seconds, a minute or two at most, but the way it’s shot is so quick and deft that it’s nearly a jump scare in its own right. Mind you, this is all happening at 100 miles an hour atop a rig that’s on fire.
Did I mention there’s a fight scene with the guitar guy from the trailers?
Yeah. This movie is fuckin’ awesome.
Anyway, despite all the awesome action, or maybe, because of all the action, Fury Road is weakest when it’s not full of fury…and not on the road. The biggest of a series of lulls occurs at the beginning of the final act. And, In an admittedly self-aware point in the narrative, the film acknowledges this and returns to said road.
I’m not attacking the film when I say it’s weakest at these lulling points. All of these lulls are needed, both for your adrenal glands and for some character development (all in a film that could easily have been an incredibly angry silent film, and still would have been top tier.) Specifically, these moments serve to best mold the connective tissue of the underlying, and beautifully crafted, strands of the film: Max is not the hero. He’s truthfully just along for the ride, for better or worse.
In fact it is Furiosa, aka Yung White Harriet Tubman, who is the true (s)hero (by the numbers and the film’s morality meter.) As her story is revealed, both pathos and motivation are seeded in you to support her making it to the Promised Land™ (wherever it ends up being.) This sleight of hand by the narrative may rub some the wrong way. And by “some,” I mean: namby pamby half-trolls whose masculinity is imperiled by even the slightest tapping at the fourth wall of their ill-crafted egos.
But I digress…
In a world of men, Furiosa defiantly and valiantly stakes her own. From being a kickass fighter to a woman caught between rocks and hard places, to having some deeply wounded and vulnerable moments, she is the protagonist this film deserves and an archetype Hollywood needs more of. And what’s more, casting Hardy as an attraction and feint was a genius move. Max is a complexly subjective character, suffering from at least one mental illness and a severe lack of verbosity. Who else then was better to do this than Hardy, who proved he could carry one of the best performances of the decade with nothing but grunts, nods, and half-spoken words, in 2012’s Lawless? (Go see this film. Now. It’s a gotdamn gem.)
Max contests Furiosa, but never seeks to overpower her. In fact, he’s more confounded by her complete and exceeding competency at the one thing he claims to be driven by: survival. Which, can be seen as problematic, but is much more humorous when you leverage the fact that he himself shouldn’t be alive half the time, with half as much preparation as Furiosa. Thus, with his blind
impossible white man luck and her completeness as a hero, the two make for a incredible team, both in terms of acting chemistry and narrative action.
By the film’s conclusion the two stand as equals, with Max stepping up to be on Furiosa’s level. An important thing to note, in that it’s truly Max who is the one in need of redemption and direction. Furiosa is the film’s moral, spiritual, and heroic center and Max is ultimately aligned and defined by her steadfastness. Again, the importance of this reversal in a film this big, in a genre so dick-centric, is just dope and I look forward to more like it.
Fury Road is super lit.
I don’t know any other way to say it. Also, Zoe Kravitz looking fine even while covered in nuclear dirt is just amazing.=
Go watch it. Right now. This weekend. Tomorrow. Whatever.
Just don’t rob yourself of the opportunity to partake in the giant orange fireball of high octane and thoughtful cinema that is Mad Max: Fury Road.
The original Homeboy With A Keyboard ™, dap wants to be an enigma, but he’s pretty transparent. A transplant from “Back East,” he found himself in Oakland writing about alla the fun things. He’s in love with the coco(a) (skinned women and butter,) among other things.