Monday, 9 November 2015

Film Review - Mad Max


Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2015 post-apocalyptic action film directed by George Miller and is the latest in the Mad Max film series. The film stars Tom Hardy in place of Mel Gibson as the infamous "Max Rockatansky" as he attempts to survive in a post-apocalyptic world against both the physical threats and the threats to his sanity. After he is captured by a group of desert bandits he must help Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) save a group of women by transporting them across the desert while escaping from desert bandits and their leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

Mad Max: Fury Road follows an different formula in terms of Max's character to the other films, instead of being the hardened police officer featured in the previous films he is instead a simple survivor living day to day before he is captured, he is also much more feral and savage than the Mel Gibson version, this is portrayed in his actions and words (or the few that he speaks); he moves quickly and violently like he is always on edge and he rarely speaks. The previous film deals with the theme of Max trying not to descend into a state of madness yet in Fury Road this seems to have occured as he frequently suffers from horrific flashbacks.

The film also differs in a few key areas; whereas the other films are set in the Australian outbac Fury Road appears to be set in a different country (although it is never actually specified where they are). Max is also portrayed as police officer in a last resort police police unit called the "Main Force Patrol", Max does mention in some dialogue that he was a police officer in the "old world" but the police unit is never mentioned in Fury Road.

As an exploitation film Mad Max exploits the genre of cars and women in certain sense. A significant portion of the film is given over to violent car chases and quite a lot of the film is even set in vehicles. Cars feature a pivotal role in the film, this is the same for the previous films as George Miller had worked as a doctor in Sydney helping those with car-accident related injuries and had lost several friends to car accidents, this may have served as inspiration for the Mad Max film. Max's famous car; the "Pursuit Special", features only briefly in Fury Road. 

The film's depiction of cars is taken to the extreme in the form of the War Boys and their leader Immortan Joe who worship cars in an almost pseudo religious manner. For instance in one scene of the film the War Boys are seen scrambling for steering wheels for their cars, these steeting wheels are situated atop a giant statue/icon which bares resemblance to a religious site, throughout the film they also perform what can be described as praying to the V8 engine which powers their cars and applying shiny chrome paint to their bodies as an act of worship. As mentioned cars are treated in a pseudo religious manner as the War Boys believe that upon death they will be taken to the highways of "Valhalla" where they will "ride eternal. One of the characters, Nux, in particular revels in the automobile, Colin Gibson of the production team states; "His car is his church, we wanted the ultimate hot rodder’s car. Once I found one in the US that had bullet holes in the windscreen, I knew we’d found it.” (Gibson, 2015).

One theme that differs from the previous film is the depiction of women, whereas in the previous film women are seen as being more typical damsels in distress the women in Fury Road prove to be anything but that. The plot revolves around women escaping from the clutches of Immortan Joe, these women are selected as "breeders" (women healthy enough to produce offspring) and seek to escape with the help of Imperator Furiosa, Immortan Joe's top female lieutenant. Imperator Furiosa proves to be a formidable combatant and leader easily dispatching several of the War Boys and even managing to kill Immortan Joe himself. 

An article about Mad Max from the website IGN; Opinion: More Movies Should Have Women Like Fury Road's, highlights and praises the aspects of how women are portrayed in the film. The article's writer; Kallie Plagge, writes "they are also victims, and they’re empowering not just because they’re resilient but also because their victimhood doesn’t rob them of agency." (Plagge, 2015) this is supported in the film as the breeders assist Max and Furiosa in their escape and prove to be very capable. 

Mad Max: Fury Road keeps to the Mad Max tradition of vicious car chases and equally nasty car accidents in an unnamed desert.

Plagge, K, 2015, opinion-fury-road-sets-the-standard-for-female-representation [ONLINE] Available at: opinion-fury-road-sets-the-standard-for-female-representation. Accessed November 10th, 2015.

Gibson, C, 2015, exclusive-cars-mad-max-fury-road [ONLINE] Available at: Accessed January 5th, 2016.

Illustration List
Figure 1 - George Miller, 2015, 03HARDY1-master675.jpg [ONLINE]

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