Mad Max: Fury Road Review: Progressive Violence 101

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Fury Road, the long awaited fourth entry of the Australian post-apocalyptic action series, has just one scene before hitting the road. Max (Tom Hardy) briefly and vaguely explains what led to the resource-ridden wasteland we arrive in before he gets captured and tries to escape to no avail.

It’s an energetic pre-title-card tease to the madness that’s about to unfold. Though effective, it’s the only part of the film that feels ordinary and run of the mill. Because once Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a rebellious driver in a tyrannical society, puts her foot on the gas pedal, Fury Road doesn’t let up until the end credits.

Hardy confidently replaces Mel Gibson as the lead, given that the previous entry was released in 1985, despite the script lacking much for Max to actually do. Her name may not be in the title, but this is Furiosa’s movie. Theron puts on war paint, shaves her head, and wears a bionic arm to create one of the most badass female characters of our time that isn’t also overly sexualized.

It turns out that Mad Max: Fury Road is the surprise feminist hit of the summer. Max and Furiosa fight alongside a group of women ranging in age and race that all hold their own and get their hands dirty. A blockbuster of this caliber hasn’t been this overtly feminist since Sigourney Weaver took charge as Ellen Ripley in Aliens.

This is a film that’s progressive while it’s blowing things up in retro ’80s glam. When a two hour car chase is this forward-thinking, it deserves recognition. As we head deeper into the male-heavy summer season, Fury Road will likely continue to stand out in the crowd as we search for something else as satisfying to those wishing for gender equality and fiery explosions.

But this movie wouldn’t garner this much celebration on politics alone. There’s not a single unenjoyable moment of in-your-face action. The chase always slows down and picks back up right when it needs to. The design of the vehicles, costumes, and makeup are richly involved in the story’s world while also expanding it. Some of the emotional scenes in the third act don’t hit quite as hard as you want them to, but they still hit.

Fury Road is an all-around “Bravo!” for director George Miller, who after all this time returns to the world of Mad Max and proves there are still stories to tell and ways to blow things up that are still jaw-dropping. The collected package is a victory for action fans and anyone who truly believes the sexes are equal. The highest praise I can give it is that it might just be this decade’s Terminator 2Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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