Mad Max: The Rise of Feminism?
Mad Max has no deep, spiritual core, and is happy with being an action movie, but it does have a feminist allegory, which instigated the Men’s Rights mob, so it must be good. Visually, this movie is a spectacle. It doesn’t have a climax, because you’re at the climax about fifteen minutes in and ride a wave of car destruction for two hours. Some women escape from a male-dominated society to seek out a utopia, but end up taking over the whole thing in the end, which is about as clear an allegory as it gets. Is that what this movie is really about?
I will say the first ten to fifteen minutes are terrible. There’s some ham-fisted exposition and cue cards to tell us who our characters are, mostly because there’s no dialogue or actual story developments to do that for us. There’s a voice over that spoonfeeds us the smallest amount of detail possible, then it’s off to the races.
The movie attempts to grow its two main characters, sorta. Max and Furiosa are the only characters we really know anything about, which is not saying much. The other characters are caricatures, especially the villains, who represent evil power and dominance. Max continuously sees visions of his dead family, but this glimpse into his psyche goes nowhere. He’s the same character by the end, and wanders off for another blockbuster, later on down the apocalyptic road.
It’s kind of nuts how much hoopla this movie has caused among many Men, who decry it as having a secret feminist message, which means it’s a piece of crap. I think there are a lot of strong, female characters in Mad Max, but I like the different take on the same old action material, and the movie’s perspective is interesting. It is not crap. However, it is feminist, and the whole thing is about the rise of women’s rights.
Charlize Theron does a great job in this movie, and stole the show with her performance, which probably draws attention to her character, as well as the movie’s message, by extension. She is missing an arm, which visually reinforces her plight and her cause, to get “redemption”, as she puts it. Every time she’s on screen, she’s only acting angry, like an unstoppable force. She has so much will and drive, she even orders Max around. She is a great character, and is the most developed of any of the characters.
It is interesting how Furiosa turns her quest for the Green Utopia on its ear and decides to ram a truck up society’s backend. She learns there is no Green Utopia, which is another obvious metaphor, and the movie uses her choice to takeover society as another way to give us more action. They drive a truck for an hour, then turn around and drive it back, doing the same stunts. Pretty funny, actually. The villainous men are scratching their heads trying to figure out what the fudge she’s doing, and end up getting stuck in a traffic jam, so they’re kicked out of society. Hilarious.
Overall, I was hoping for the movie to take me back to the glory years of Mad Max, starring Mel Gibson, but Fury Road is its own beast. It is interesting visually and really fun to watch, but it emphasizes a gender war to the extreme. I prefer to think of the movie as a reminder of female strength, not simply as an allegory about the fight for equality in an evil, male world. However, the movie still has plenty of skin and barely-there costumes, but those things wouldn’t be necessary if it actually had a story and character development. At one point, I wondered where the heck Max went, but he popped up later strapped to the front end of a car, trying to ram the ladies back to kingdom come. “We are no one’s property,” the female characters shout, making this the least understated movie of the year.