I’ve never seen such a display of testosterone than Mad Max: Fury Road.
I thought those terrible Fast and the Furious movies had claimed the title of most macho franchise ever, but Fury Road reminded us of who took on Toecutter, who saved the Feral Kid. George Miller’s latest oversaturated addition to the franchise stands out from the rest.
Some diehard straight guys have complained about the film, claiming it’s a cleverly-disguised propaganda piece filled with dangerous feminism that macho men are being tricked into seeing.
My response? Fuck yeah it is.
Max tends to get involved in other people’s conflicts, and this movie keeps with that tradition. This time, the mission is to save a group of women from systematic rape by a psycho overlord named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne — welcome back). When he visits their empty prison chamber, a message has been left on the wall: “Our babies will not be warlords.” Valerie Solanas would be proud.
The award for biggest badass of the movie goes to Charlize Theron’s Furiosa. And in Tom Hardy’s meaty, roguish hands — and under Miller’s meticulous direction — Max is her damsel in distress for most of the movie.
He’s leashed, muzzled, and tied to the front of a car for the first twenty minutes. As sexy as this is, Furiosa saves him, then proceeds to outsmart him, outshoot him, and save him again when he’s dangling out of a truck during the final chase (the whole movie, really, is one giant chase scene).
Furiosa is not the sultry vixen that the main dude sleeps with. She’s the skinhead hero who kicks ass to save women, while Hardy’s Max is just a bumbling helper. Hardy’s Max is a bit more boorish and messed-up than Gibson’s taciturn, calculating original, and brings a refreshing change to the character.
Fucking with the stereotypical gender dynamics of an action movie — and leaving out a sex scene entirely (or rape scene, which tend to occur in the Mad Max franchise) — Fury Road is as bold as it is fun. It’s a macho display for a new and hopefully improving generation of action lovers who don’t need a male hero. I certainly don’t.
Gender aside, the rest of the movie is pretty familiar Mad Max camp. It’s well-choreographed, loud, and keeps with Miller’s fast, choreographed style. It might be too much to ask for some stillness in the next installment, or to quietly request that Tom Hardy not sound so much like Vin Diesel’s Riddick. But please, for the love of God, keep the muzzle.