Mad Max: Fury Road starts out promising, but confuses itself for a feminist manifesto

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Weekly
Photo courtesy of Orlando Weekly
Photo courtesy of Orlando Weekly

It’s been three decades since the last movie in the Mad Max franchise (the third film, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) came out in 1985, but director George Miller has finally treated us to a fresh installment — and what an installment it is!

The new film, titled Mad Max: Fury Road, is a two-hour long thrill ride that gives us some of the most exciting and creative action scenes possibly in cinematic history. In fact, if it weren’t for the painfully blatant tones of feminist propaganda and insufferably independent female characters confusedly not clad in desert bikinis, I might’ve said Fury Road is one of the best films of the past decade.

Starring Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception) as the titular protagonist, viewers are again transported to a post-apocalyptic world where resources like water are now a rarity, and women have somehow wormed their way into a position where not all of them can be pigeonholed to love interest status. In a nutshell, the world has gone to hell.

The movie opens with Mad Max (Hardy) surveying the mostly-desert world, but there’s hardly a moment of plot before our hero is forced on the run by a cast of brutal villains. Most of the film’s plot occurs in the first 20 minutes, before giving way to an extensive and inventive chase scene that basically lasts the rest of the running time. However, viewers should be aware that most of the action in this film is of the explosion and violence type, with very little female nudity to complement. It’s an odd mixture of adrenaline and clothed female characters — and it doesn’t always pay off.

The film also stars Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class, Skins) as Max’s newfound ally and Hugh Keays-Byrne (from the original Mad Max) as the heinous Immortan Joe. Charlize Theron is also in the movie as some girl (I can’t remember if she even had a name), but she’s not really important. In fact, Theron’s portrayal of a girl who just can’t seem to get herself a boyfriend is what prevents Fury Road from ever really gelling.

Her character proves problematic in that she doesn’t spend the whole movie chained up or being forced to be a man’s sex slave of some kind. Perhaps the biggest misstep of the movie: not once does she get captured by the bad guys and locked in a dungeon somewhere, forced to await Max’s rescue or maybe use her body in a sexual way to outmaneuver the guards. It’s a total disregard to Mad Max loyalists, clearly pandering to a demographic of whiny feminists who just don’t understand what makes a great film great.

I can’t agree with the rave reviews that Fury Road seems to be reaping, but I can say that it feels good to be back in the Mad Max universe. A fifth installment has already been alluded to (Miller tweeted “there’s more Max to come” and Hardy is reportedly signed on for multiple sequels) so there’s still a chance we could get the film we want — we just have to trust that George Miller doesn’t let any more smelly girls ruin it.