Mad Max: Fury Road

As an embittered cop whose family had been killed by a motorcycle gang, Mel Gibson instilled Max Rockatansky with an aura of vengeance at his core. Now in Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom Hardy (who played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) is more of a contemplative “feral” sans any societal credentials. Captured and used for a hood ornament, this Max is as far removed from Gibson’s vision as Beyond Thunderdome is from director George Miller’s apocalyptic drag race.

Miller has chosen to fragment his latest installment into a series of copiously splintered high energy assaults set in a Sadean Sahara full of despots, harems and hideously amalgamated demolition death cars occupied by bleached out “yes men” in service to the warlord, Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne from the original Mad Max, looking suspiciously similar to Iron Maiden’s mascot, Eddie). With Max grunting and helplessly strapped down during the first third of the film, the stunts fall to one of Joe’s foot soldiers, a one-armed, androgynous Furiosa (Charlize Theron).

And that’s pretty much the necessary scorecard, except for the prized commodity at hand that results in the massive chase across salt flats in the pursuit of misguided dreams. It may indeed be a female-centric film, along the lines of Margaret Atwood scripting a Roadrunner cartoon based on Friedkin’s Sorcerer. But though scarce, fuel provides the means to retrieve Joe’s stolen harem, meaning fertility is the motivating force behind Furiosa’s breaking rank and risking the wrath of Joe.

But it’s this theme of sisterhood that’s caused some to call into question prerogatives, calling for a boycott of Fury Road, claiming the movie negates the masculine hero to secondary status, giving Theron precedence. OK, so what? This is exactly what pisses me off about those who call for boycotts in general: they aren’t informed or haven’t seen the product before getting their tiff in a tuff, willing to punish any involved just to get their way!

So let me see if I understand what’s bothering these people.

In Mad Max: Fury Road, gorgeous women are enslaved to provide their warlord a healthy, normal offspring, and all that’s required of them is to look good and bear children!

Furthermore, once he’s escaped captivity, Max chooses to accompany Furiosa and the breeders to find safe haven, saying, “men are here to fix things, and when they fail, are driven mad!”

What, then, is the feminist slant here?

I recall that when Disney released The Lion King, feminist film critics went ballistic over the movie suggesting that males should protect their wife and children! I remember visiting Agnes Scott to attend a friend’s play, seeing posters in the adjacent hallways claiming “Marriage and Paternalism are ideas that are outdated!”

Mad Max: Fury Road, metaphorically, is a movie about remembering family and commonality that binds men and women together against savagery. The alternative to paternalism isn’t feminism but hooliganism, or caddish rogue male behavior.

The duality of Furiosa and Max is indisputable!

They dress alike. She wears her hair closely cropped while his hair is shorn to a skull cap. Max is closer to being Furiosa’s spirit guide as she protects the women at hand.

Unduly criticized for retracing its steps, the pursuit to the “greener” pasture only to reverse itself and re-battle the savages paints this as a cyclical journey – if society can crumble, it can be reinstated also! Tyranny and mutation are not the ends but the means to a civilized solution.

The original Mad Max was a twisted tale of revenge that foreshadowed the impending apocalypse that was transpiring around him.

The Road Warrior served as a beacon to priorities after the cataclysm occurred and the fundamentals of life were essentially food, water and fuel for a nomadic existence.

Beyond Thunderdome warned that the lure of promise was besieged with depravity – both on and off the screen!

Mad Max: Fury Road is the anxious turmoil of recovery as George Miller ferociously uses his camera as though it too was part of the chaotic swirl that envelops the pain and promise, only this time it’s not enough to survive. You need somewhere to go to.