What I have to say about Mad Max: Fury Road is this:
I have never in my life gone to see an action movie for the sake of an action movie.
I have never in my life had the slightest interest in viewing suped-up vehicles (or any kind of vehicles, really) for fun.
Nor am I a big fan of being entertained by violence.
But by all that is holy, did Mad Max ever work for me.
The movie was all I had been led to expect and more. The only disappointment I had was that the vehicles didn’t get increasingly larger in the second half, with more elaborate explosions every time anything touched the ground. It really did reveal to me how fucking cool such enormous, brutish vehicles could be (particularly with a woman behind the wheel).
But I loved the level of design in the worldbuilding, especially in the sandstorm/hurricane/tornado scene, and of course the polecats and the motorcycle grannies. (Though I admit I already had a big weakness for biker punk-rock style.)
And, of course, I loved the wildly feminist message and critique of society, summed up by one of my favorite movie commentators, braak on The Toast:
What I like about Fury Road is that not only is it feminist, but it’s so brazenly feminist that we don’t have the vocabulary for it. Like, our bar for “feminism” in movies is so low that Fury Road clears it with enough distance to make it look like it didn’t even notice.
“George Miller would you say this movie is feminist? You know, strong female characters, lots of roles for women, an implication of equality, that sort of thing?”
“Well, yeah, that. Also it says explicitly that organized systems of religion, capitalism, and military-industrial hierarchy facilitate the rule by a small number of men who are able to objectify women and coerce them into sexual slavery in order for those men to control societal access to fertility, and that those systems are toxic to the global community and must be eradicated with revolutionary action.”
But I also am all about the pajama-wearing guitarist whose riffs are literally ON FIRE. I am all about the plot arc of that guitar, as it bounced in rock-star fashion to the foreground and then the background. I’m sure even now it’s bouncing across the desert, waiting for a worthy hand to pick it up again.
I am all about over-the-top campy parodies of traditional masculinity, and that’s what Mad Max: Fury Road served in full measure.
And I haven’t even touched upon the glorious existence of Imperator Furiosa, oh my God. She did not have to die for her redemption! The movie was literally all about Mad Max helping her smash the patriarchy and leaving her as the new ruler of a desert colony. She was shining and magnificent and used Max as a human armrest for her massive gun.
Also I love the fact that the director created Imperator Furiosa because he didn’t want to write about Max rescuing the women, as then it would just be a man stealing another man’s women, and that’s not a story that interested him.
Also the movie had a lot of genuinely funny lines, from “YOU SHALL BE SHINING AND CHROME” closely followed by a judgment of “MEDIOCRE,” plus the guy who was blinded and then proclaimed himself the scales of justice, and also the exclamation “WHAT A LOVELY DAY!”
What a lovely day, indeed.