Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Dir: George Miller
Despite looking like ‘The Fast and Furious’ on psychotropic substances, this film manages to serve up some of the strongest female roles I’ve seen in a while and is undeniably engaging from start to end.
In a dystopian future, Max (Tom Hardy) is captured for use as a living blood supply, fighting back he finds himself caught in the middle of Imperator Furiosa’s (Charlize Theron) daring counter-abduction plan as she attempts to free a group of young women from captivity at the hands of a powerful war lord.
I’ve not seen any of the other Mad Max films and while I’m sure it would add some extra context, it didn’t feel like a necessity at all as the film worked perfectly well as a stand-alone. Really this film while being set in the world of ‘Mad Max’, puts Max himself in an almost incidental role, he’s by no means the focus and knowing much about his personal backstory didn’t feel compulsory.
It’s not a film of long conversations, or really any conversations of note, it’s almost all about the action that lasts the entire running time with merely a couple of scenes in which things stop for a brief break. Tom Hardy says barely a thing, I’d imagine you could give him his whole script worth of dialogue on a single side of A4. That’s not to say his performance isn’t good, he is, especially given that the majority of his role is conveyed through grunts, looks and pure physicality.
Theron is getting most of the praise and rightly so, despite Max being in the title, she’s the lead. On the surface this appears to be a typical ‘lads’ film, full of cars and action, but while it provides all that, it also passes the Bechdel test whereas so many action (and other genre films) don’t. The test is simple, 1) Are there two or more (preferably named) women? 2) Do they talk to each other? 3) About something other than a man? If the answer to all three questions is yes, you have a film that respects women more than many fail to do!
I feel like the plot would be an interesting one even if set within a far simpler film, the idea of freeing women who have been forced to breed against their will could apply in many settings and is central to such modern literary classics as Margaret Attwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. It added a refreshing depth to a film that could easily have been mere showy action and over-abundant style. It’s an almost eccentric film but is a million miles away from ever being boring, it almost never stops moving and looks so striking with something fascinating to look at in every frame, from the landscapes to the heavily made up cast and extras and the bespoke vehicles. I’m not sure I exactly liked it but I can’t fault the skill involved in the visuals and action, it really looks incredible and features things on screen I’ve never seen before, all very well shot.
Already the Golden Globes recognised this film by nominating it for a few very respectable categories, however it failed to win any of them in the end. The Academy have followed suit with a raft of nominations from the prestigious ‘Best Picture’ to the technical plaudits for sound, and the film also has a very impressive 7 nominations at the BAFTAs in similar categories. There are more Mad Max films planned now with Tom Hardy signed on and though I’m not particularly excited by that prospect, I wouldn’t mind seeing where they go from here, how this society develops and what other unusual sights Miller can conjure up.
‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ was nominated for Golden Globes, and is currently nominated for 7 BAFTAs including ‘Cinematography’, ‘Production Design’ and ‘Visual Effects’. It has also been nominated for lots of Academy Awards including ‘Best Director’, ‘Editing’, ‘Best Picture’, ‘Production Design’, ‘Visual Effects’, ‘Cinematography’, ‘Costume Design’, ‘Make-up and Hairstyling’ as well as ‘Sound Mixing’ and ‘Sound Editing’. It’s likely to win a fair few of these, out now and available to buy on all usual formats.