Mad Max

Mad Max: Fury Road, a Summer Blockbuster defying the Patriarchal Action-Film Industry

By Daniela Garcia
Blog Content Contributor

*KTSW consists of and respects  varying opinions within its staff. Opinion articles do not reflect the opinion of  KTSW as a whole.

Mad Max
Photo courtesy Bloody-disgusting.com

[Spoiler Alert]

As we begin to settle down into the calmer pace of our Texas summer, we may find ourselves with a bit more time to splurge at local theaters in hopes of catching an interesting flick. With our usually friendly Texas temporarily forgetting its routine summer heat recently, things have been somewhat out of place so it is perfectly understandable if you haven’t been able to catch one of the latest films your friends might have been raving about- Mad Max: Fury Road.

My first thought prior to entering the theater with a pair of cool 3-D glasses, a bag of buttery popcorn, a blue-raspberry ICEE, and a salted pretzel (because why not spend $30 at the poppin’ new EVO complex) was, “Wellp. That was expensive. But I think I deserve this because of that A in History.” A couple of minutes of action-packed trailers rolled on *pa dum tss* and then…the clanging of a rusty and bloodied- Warner Brother’s logo slams into the black screen. I thought, “Hmm, okay okay.” Shortly after, a black screen is accompanied by a dark and husky voice tinged with an accent that if you’d seen a trailer of the film prior to watching the film itself you would instantly recognize as the ever so handsome Tom Hardy’s voice-over. Hardy introduces himself as Max Rockatansky and gives viewers a brief overview of who he is and how he got to this state of mind he described as crazy hence the title of the film, Mad Max. So I think, “Okay. This is pretty much a sexy male lead doing a classic voice-over in medias res of a wasteland that was once the Old World. Got it.”

I am ashamed to admit that I was quick to judge because not long after Max’s intro, viewers are pulled along for a wild ride that yes indeed involves Max but does not necessarily focus on Max entirely. Instead, viewers are soon introduced to a badass-looking Charlize Theron playing the powerful role of Imperator Furiosa. And let me just say WHOAH. To my surprise, for once in a long time (to the best of my knowledge), a female lead in an action film was NOT sexualized. But the incredible casting and evidently talented SFX crew was just the beginning of things I’d love to drone on and on about over this film.

From an outward perspective you would think that the film is solely about the obvious plot: humans are living in this wasteland that was once Earth and  Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne)- the disgusting and quite frankly creepy old guy with white Fabio hair- ruling the cavernous land of the Citadel while the only conventionally “beautiful” women left are named breeders he has taken captive but have reached out to Furiosa to escape towards the “Green Place”. Muscles, guns, raging fire, revving engines and oh yeah, that guy on the flamethrower guitar bro! Siiiiiick!

In the midst of slurping on my blue-raspberry ICEE and continuously dipping my fingers into a bowl of heaven followed by a wipe of the napkin (slurp, dip, crunch, wipe, repeat) I couldn’t help but notice a deeper plot hidden but inevitably obvious to film junkies comme moi.  It wasn’t until Capable, a stunning redhead played by model-actress grandchild of none other than Elvis Presley, Riley Keough, is huddled next to Nux (Nicholas Hoult)-the warboy you are bound to love anyway despite his shiny chrome antics-that I noticed this film could actually be a reflection of modern-day society in America. Yep. I said it. I became sure of this insinuation by George Miller when Capable responds to Nux after having failed Immortan Joe and the Spendid Angharad (Rosie Hungtington-Whiteley):

Nux: I was awaited in Valhalla. They were calling my name. I should be walking with Immortan. Feasting with the heroes of all time

Capable: Maybe it was your manifest destiny not to.

Throughout the entire film, war parties battle over “guzzeline” in their tricked out vehicles, chasing the treasonous Furiosa who conceals the wives of Immortan that wish to see the Green Place in search of a better life in which they’re not considered things, a.k.a. Furiosa’s homeland. Who can blame her though right? Apparently, Immortan only releases water he has hundreds of slaves pull from the earth so rarely that what seems like thousands of peasants he overlooks go crazy with their rusty scrap-metal containers to fill with water when he does. He justifies his actions by saying, “Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!” Not just this but Immortan Joe was pretty disgusting with his blister ridden back, extracting milk from breastfeeding mothers, bottling it up and handing it to his barbaric son Rictus Erectus for tasting. Bleh! But this kind’a makes you think about what humans do when extracting milk from cows…am I right? Just a thought…

The film was so good, I went ahead and re-watched it on a $5 Tuesday at EVO! I picked up on a lot more dialogue the second time around and could still not dismiss the reflection of a patriarchal society of modern-day America (and other countries might I add) George Miller portrays exquisitely.

Not only does Geoge Miller do a good job of integrating details that reference a slave-founded America obscured from classroom textbooks but modern-day America as well with its waging wars over nonrenewable sources, women fighting for a voice without being objectified, and the barren land humans have exhausted therefore reducing themselves to worship a tree of wheels-yes, car wheels-, risking their lives for the alleged gates of Valhalla within which they will get to ride forever shiny and chrome. The entire film, the women are avoiding the west. But why the west? Don’t think about it too hard. Just remember, Manifest Destiny, the insatiable thirst of the English in the 17th century to escape their disease-ridden grounds and of course, riches. Mad Max: Fury Road does an exceptional job in selectively casting to represent different countries and their intentions as well as gender roles to emphasize the oppression of women and how truly kick ass they can be. But better, senseless people have dehumanized humans and the result has been truly costly. Unfortunately, the east held nothing but salt (does this represent England not being able to look to other countries around it for aid during the plague, and only finding the ocean around?). It was too late for the Green Place. The water was sour and nothing could be grown on its grounds. The only solution that Max proposes was to return to the west, kill Immortan and make a peace offering with the sick warboys back home. Furiosa cringes but secretly knows it is the only way to survive (a human’s primary instinct). But it isn’t without love and compassion that Furiosa establishes one is able to survive as humanized beings. That isn’t to say that they could have done it without Max or Nux but the important message is, equality and unity.

It took a one-handed Furiosa, a learning troop of virgin wives, the remaining Many Mothers, a disheartened Nux and a mad Max to bring back Immortan’s body to the peasants and take hold of the Citadel to redefine, & rebuild humanity.

A fade-to black credit ends the film in the following quote,

“Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves.” -The First History of Man

So I hope you find yourself with time and $5 to spare so you can catch this action-packed film then walk out of there saying,
“Oh what a day –
What a lovely day!”

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