It really shouldn’t take a long and hard thinking to figure out why I would watch a movie that was based or is some sort of continuity to an old trilogy that I have never even heard of before: Tom Hardy. Sue me, but he had caught my eyes in Inception (as well as everyone else’s, really) and he was superb on Locke and scene stealing on the season 2 of Peaky Blinders, so who am I to refuse his appeal? And well, at the very least he will be able to hold my attention if Mad Max: Fury Road turns out to be just another eardrum-blasting eyes-pleasing summer movie with no story.
Turns out, though, it wasn’t.
In a post-apocalyptic world, where humanity had gone haywire, there’s hope of salvation in the form of two rebels: Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a man haunted by the ghost of his past who’s unable decide whom is more insane between him and the rest of the world, and Furiosa (Charlize Theron), an Imperator who wants to return to her homeland.
Thing is, Furiosa doesn’t go alone. She’s bringing along five of the Immortan Joe’s (Hugh Keays-Byrne) most prized wives.
Holy fuck. That was the first reaction that come to my mind during the time I watched this movie and even afterwards, I can only chant “Holy fuck, holy fuck, HOLY FUCK” like I’m mad. Because it is the only appropriate response. I don’t recall being this breathlessly excited over a movie since The Raid 2 and Sin City 2 – even Age of Ultron didn’t left me thoroughly battered but satisfied the way this film did. Because while Mad Max: Fury Road was a total madness, it also has more than strong enough substance.
It’s an already well known tradition that summer movies normally sport a package of handful-in your face actions with less than tolerable storyline. Look at Pacific Rim or
god forbid Transformers for example. Even the two previous action-packed movies I mentioned had questionable narrative. But where they lacked, Mad Mad: Fury Road actually soar. With a simple premise and arguably traditional development, George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nick Lathouris managed to keep the story not only tightly knit but also substantial. While it is nowhere novel, they’ve showcased an eerily plausible depiction of what the future might have in store for us – and at the same time reflect something that we know is happening somewhere in the world. Dying for your so-called god for an eternal salvation? Look at me in the eyes and tell me that does not sounds so familiar it unsettles you. And in such crapsack world, it really is not that surprising to see Furiosa and the Wives being driven to the brink of desperation that they took such drastic measure. All for a slim chance of freedom even if the odds were not on their side. Plus, I adore a certain turn of the story that prevents Mad Max: Fury Road from going down an expected route.
But what I really love the most from this movie is Max and Furiosa: their elaborate characters, their shiver-inducing dynamics, and how George Miller present them – I love everything. Furiosa had both a clear purpose and a background that caused it, she is strong willed and cunning enough to make do with whatever card she’s dealt with, she knows how to deal with people and bid her time, and by god she could fend for herself. Max may at first think that he’s holding the control and he is the one who let Furiosa and the Wives come along, but it was actually the opposite. Because Furiosa played him and it was only because she needed Max (and trusted him enough to some extent) that she allows him to stay. And Max, while his backstory is not as clear Furiosa’s and is more of an aimless wanderer slash adrenaline junkie rather than a fully functional man with purpose, was still solid enough to caught my eyes. Tom Hardy could take full credit on this because he had such strong presence and had it not been him, Max would have been overwhelmed by Charlize Theron’s portrayal of the charismatic Furiosa.
I’ve said it before on Twitter and I’ll say it again now: this movie does not belong to Max. It belongs to Imperator Furiosa and that is a refreshing change. It is awfully rare for an action movie with so-called male main character to have a female character that is more than a damsel in distress or – at best – a sidekick. Yet it was reversed here. Furiosa trumps over Max in battle skills and rightfully so, for she is an Imperator and a soldier while he’s just a mad man – albeit one with quite badass fighting capabilities. There was this particular scene where Max failed to shoot their enemy and instead of wasting their last bullet, he hands the gun over to Furiosa because he knows that she’s a better sharpshooter and he knows she’s more than capable to finish the job, the way he never will. It’s just….such a strong and meaningful moment that I literally choke when I watched it and that’s when I fell for this movie. Hook, line, and sinker.
The other characters, unfortunately, was not as stellar or memorable aside from their bordering disfigured appearance. I don’t even know the names of the wives except from the Splendid Angharad (played by Rosie Huntington which would explain why she looks so familiar) and Cheedo. I have no idea who the other three were even if one of them left such a strong impression. And no, I’m not talking about the red haired who fell for Nux (who was portrayed splendidly as a half-mad-but-merely-misguided soul by Nicholas Hoult, by the way). I’m talking about the feisty short-haired petite one). And for a supposedly formidable tyrant, Hugh Keays-Byrne’s Immortan Joe is unimpressive. And yet this is such a ingenious portrayal, because one does not necessarily needs to be inhumanely strong to rule. Immortan Joe controlled the water and that gave him power, and he ruled in such ways that everyone is dependent on him, he build a cult and religion with himself as the prophet, effectively elevating him to a god-like status and prompt people to die for his cause. And isn’t that the scariest kind of evil?
So yeah, I’m madly in love with Mad Max: Fury Road. Not only because it’s a movie with superfluous amount of violence that could put any other vehicle warfare movies to shame, or because it has a coherent narrative with two breathtaking characters. But also for the fact that it had underlying social critiques and how, for once, it put both men and women in an equal ground the way they’re supposed to be. It’s not perfect, there is a bit of weak link by the end of the movie and some drama were mere plot device, but it still was more than good enough to got me raving about it. What a lovely day indeed, George Miller. And yes, I am in love with both Mad Max and Imperator Furiosa and I am not ashamed to proclaim that.
Director: George Miller. Writer: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris. Released on: 14 May 2015. Casts: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Nicholas Hoult.