Mad Max: Fury Road [Celluloid Hero]
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
I had never seen any of the Mad Max series in their entirety. I knew bits and pieces of the first three movies, I always seemed to catch them midway through, or watched the beginning without enough time to finish it. I saw the fight between Max and Master Blaster about a million times when I was younger, but never saw the rest "Beyond Thunderdome". When "Fury Road" was announced, I didn't really have an interest; once I heard the rave reviews it was getting, I decided to bear down and watch all the previous movies before finally getting to this one.
As a stand-alone, this is a fantastic movie. It doesn't spend a vast amount of time with backstory, we're just immediately thrust into a situation. There's an evil leader, abusing his "subjects", taking advantage of the power his position gives him. There's a rebel, someone who wants to overthrow the leader and start new. And then there's Max.
I'm not the first to point this out, but Mad Max is not the hero of this movie. He was always more of an anti-hero anyway, but in this case, he's relegated to a sidekick. Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is the driving force, the rebel who wants a better life. If Max had never come across her town, her plan still would have been set in motion. It may not have succeeded, but Max's actions don't initiate anything.
Even after watching the first three installments, I still don't really "get" them. The first one was clearly a directorial debut, it's not totally coherent, it's filled with lots of ideas that aren't fleshed out. The second one, "The Road Warrior" is probably my favorite, and "Beyond Thunderdome" had the feeling of stretching a concept out too thin. "Fury Road" worked for me because it didn't fight to maintain any mythology, it was just another town that Max stumbled upon while battling through a desolate wasteland.
The drawbacks of this movie really fall into the lap of Charlize Theron. I've heard many say she was a "feminist icon" or that this was a feminist movie, simply because the ass-kicking hero was really a heroine. I understand it's rare that a female is the lead in an action movie, but I felt like she was the weakest part. Tom Hardy has yet to disappoint me (and likely can't), Nicholas Hoult had a solid frenetic energy. The action was insane, the stunts were eye-bulging, the cars were badass, the costumes were great, the flame-thrower-guitar became an immediate icon. For me, the most important thing for any movie is to entertain me. Mad Max wasn't perfect, but it was damn entertaining.