Okay, okay, it’s not a horror movie so why the fuck am I even writing about it and why bother adding my insignificant voice to the chorus of hosannas this thing is receiving from all and sundry and so on and so forth and blah de blah. Well, to that I have but one reply:
This is a good movie, is what I’m saying, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you suck and you’re a terrible person. Honestly, this shit is so awesome that had I been a boy, I would have developed a huge, pulsing erection five minutes into the movie that grew in size until it encompassed several city blocks and shot fire and poison blood in great steaming arcs for several days afterwards. As it was, I’m pretty sure my entire face melted off my skull and left behind a grime-encrusted rictus of bullet teeth and battered steel. And for real, I don’t even usually like action movies all that much; I find most of them fairly boring, but this thing kicked so much ass that the GoH and I actually paid full price to see it in the theater three times so far (and two of those times were in 3D, so ya know, cha-ching), and have spent hours expounding upon its epic raddities, of which there are countless examples.
First thing, though: How in the everloving FUCK did no one die on this fucking set? As the entire internet knows, this thing is 90% practical effects: Real stunts, real crazy vehicles, real crashes, real sand, real fire. And it fucking shows. I haven’t been this tense in a movie since…well, ever. The danger is palpable, the violence is brutally real. I wasn’t only worried about the characters, I was worried about the fucking ACTORS. Spiked vehicles were plowing into each other at sixty miles an hour, everything was shooting gigantic plumes of flame, there were dudes running around with chainsaws on top of fucking moving trucks, there were other dudes on poles hopping from car to car and plucking people out of sunroofs, THERE WAS A DUDE PLAYING A FLAMETHROWING GUITAR FOR FUCK’S SAKE, it was complete, utter, batshit insanity. In fact, the stunt work here is the best I’ve ever seen, in any film, ever, no contest. Totally jaw-dropping, and I’m still wondering how the fuck they could have possibly filmed it, other than fucking magic.
I also gotta say, I love the fact that director George Miller, who of course helmed the original Mad Max films, is seventy years old, and is clearly out of fucks to give. He brought on cinematographer John Seale—also in his seventies and retired—especially for this project. These two oldsters came blazing into an action-movie landscape riddled with CGI snorefests and empty spectacle, punched every single other recent action movie in the dick, and then dropped the mic, walking away in slow motion while the entire planet exploded in a mushroom cloud behind them. Try to top it and you will fail harder than failure has ever failed. This is how it’s done, youngsters.
I think the best things about the movie only become clearer the more times you see it, which is why we’ve already seen it several times; it gets deeper and more profound each time, and you catch a lot of detail that you missed. The movie is inarguably spectacular: Its visuals operatic, over-the-top, and gorgeous, its framing perfect, its world fully realized. The set pieces are gloriously ridiculous, but have an unimpeachable logic behind them. Not a single fucking moment is wasted; the whole thing is a lean, mean, cock-socking machine, a total adrenaline rush from start to finish. The first time you see it, the thing is simply overwhelming: It holds you down in the dirt and pummels you in the face repeatedly with a giant iron fist of awesomeness. It’s so rich and overstimulating that it’s hard to take it all in on the initial viewing. In fact, the very first time we saw it, we were legitimately exhausted afterward, as though we’d just run a fucking marathon. Of the very few criticisms I’ve seen of the movie, the main one seems to be that the movie is visually amazing but light on plot and character development. This is 100% fucking incorrect. There is a fuck of a lot going on in Fury Road, but almost none of it is explicit. The best thing about it is that it trusts its audience to fill in the blanks. It doesn’t need explanation or exposition, because everything is right there in front of you, if you pay attention. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron cram more character development into a brief glance or a single word than most action stars do with pages of dialogue. They hardly say anything, but their actions and body language tell you all you need to know. You CARE about them. You WANT them to succeed. The visual spectacle is great, but it’s great precisely because it means something; the action has weight because you give a shit about what happens to these people, which is something I don’t see in action movies at all anymore. I have a feeling that this movie is going to become the go-to in film schools to illustrate the principle of “show, don’t tell.” Almost everything about the film’s world is implied rather than explained, and that is a beautiful thing.
Another much sillier complaint comes from the sad-manbaby corners of MRA-dom: Namely, that they feel the movie is so epically badass because it’s a “trick” to get men to see a “feminist propaganda” piece. This is brain-numbingly stupid on many levels, but let’s unpack that complaint for a minute. Firstly, is this a “feminist” film? Sure, in the sense that its women characters are portrayed as complex human beings who are every bit as capable and flawed as the men (and I particularly liked that the female characters didn’t simply act like “action star men with boobs,” they actually still had traditionally feminine qualities while also being totally badass). And sure, the plot of the film does revolve around the intensely kick-ass Imperator Furiosa and her quest to free Immortan Joe’s “wives” from their oppression. And sure, Max is something of a sideline character who simply stumbles into the women’s story and eventually helps them achieve their goals, rekindling a little of his lost humanity along the way. Additionally, there is nothing so cliché as a romantic subplot, or a sense that the women are just there as decoration or to act as catalysts for the men’s actions. Max and Furiosa are unspoken equals, and help and respect each other in equal measure. This is never stated explicitly, but it’s definitely there. When there’s only one bullet left in the gun and Max needs to take a difficult shot and has already missed two times, he has absolutely no qualms about wordlessly handing the gun over to Furiosa and letting her steady the barrel on his shoulder. She doesn’t ask him for the gun, but he just gives it to her. He has seen her take a very similar shot before, and nail it. It doesn’t matter to him that she happens to have ovaries; he just knows she’s a better shot, and they can’t afford to take chances. The fact that the women of Fury Road are just treated like real humans without drawing attention to the fact is actually really refreshing, and it’s depressingly significant that some idiots are making an issue of it when it absolutely should not even be a noticeable thing. (The GoH, incidentally, did NOT notice a particularly “feminist” angle, and was genuinely surprised when I later told him about the MRA backlash.)
A further reason that the whole “feminist propaganda” angle is retarded as hell is that, HELLO, there are great, sympathetic male characters too, like Max himself, and like the lovable Nux, who has the film’s most compelling character arc as he journeys from an indoctrinated War Boy to the self-sacrificing hero who ensures the gang’s success. The whole point of the film, as a matter of fact, is that men and women have to work together, practically and on equal footing, to solve the world’s problems, because they have differing strengths and weaknesses that complement each other. That’s not a feminist message; it’s a humanist one. After all, it’s not just that the women are oppressed in the Mad Max universe, but that EVERYONE is. Yes, the wives have been used as walking wombs, but the War Boys have been used too, raised from birth in a religious cult that glorifies death in battle, making them nothing more than disposable cannon fodder for the ruling elite. Even Max is used at first as just a resource for the war machine, a living “bloodbag” for Nux. In fact, on repeat viewings, it becomes very clear that Fury Road is a straight-up allegory: Immortan Joe, with his apocalyptic rhetoric and cult of personality, represents organized religion; the Bullet Farmer, with his barrister-wig-looking bullet headpiece and his shrieking about “the scales of justice” after he is blinded by Furiosa, represents a corrupt legal system; and The People Eater, with his grotesque obesity and obsessive bean-counting, represents an out-of-control corporate greed. These three institutions, represented by the Citadel, the Bullet Farm, and Gastown, collude to oppress the masses, maintaining an iron grip on resources and promulgating an artificial scarcity to keep the rabble under their thumbs. If anything, Fury Road is a good old-fashioned “little guy fights the system” flick, and just because many of the “little guys” happen to be women doesn’t make the story any less universal or relatable. Unless you’re a douche, I suppose.
Anyway, it seems that I’ve exhausted my adjectives talking about how fucking epic this film is and I’ve still fallen short, but I must say that I’m happily astounded that the critical response has been nearly as gushing as that of the fans. I really believe that this film is a milestone, not just in the action genre, but in film as a whole. It is a work of staggering genius, an instant classic, an iconic slab of art for the ages. I salute you, George Miller and everyone else involved in this outstanding production, and I will personally accompany you to the gates of Valhalla! *sprays silver paint in mouth*