5 star review

Movie Review – Mad Max: Fury Road

This movie left me breathless. Literally breathless. I can’t remember ever being this sucked into a movie since reaching adulthood. I’ll grant you, I went in predisposed to like it due to the awesome, awesome, reviews. But I wasn’t prepared to be enthralled. I don’t know how long I stared entranced until the action slowed down a bit, all I know is a kept leaning forward, gripping the hand rests as though they were the only things keeping me grounded, my heart pounding in my chest, breathless. When the first chase scene ended the theater was filled with one whooshing out gasp. I think the entire theater was breathless alongside me.

Furiosa’s calm assumption of power right from the start was just shiver inducing. And then we really meet her, meet the wives, meet Max and Nux. Everyone is a person, no one is a thing. And all of these characterizations come about with incredibly stripped down dialogue. Few people had more than a handful of lines, and yet they were real. It was, in my opinion, masterful.

Some things were ridiculous. The wives are quite the McGuffin. And for a world so bare of water they seemed incredibly wasteful. And the whole mother’s milk thing strained credulity because of the sheer amount of calories needed to produce it. And looking back, the symbolism with the seeds is kind of eye rolling. None of that registered while I was in that seat. It was all action, and character growth, and emotions. And it hit me right in the feels. I am not ashamed to admit there were times I teared up.

So the question everyone seems to want to talk about, is this a feminist movie? That is going to depend very heavily on how a person defines feminism. I am falling on the side of yes, this is strongly feminist. We have a strong female warrior in Furiosa, one who made difficult choices in order to survive, and who risked everything for redemption. We have strong capable female nurturers. Splendid Angharad, Capable, Toast the Knowing, Cheedo the Fragile, and The Dag. Victims who decide to take a better path for themselves. No unnecessary killing, protect the children, work together, and defend when necessary and however they are capable. They are capable and have agency without being improbable warriors. Hell, even the Milk Mothers in the end have their agency. We have a man who neither oppresses nor cossets women. Max fights Furiosa just as he did the men, he assumes capability from all the women and acts accordingly. And Nux, a young man who learns, inescapably, how he is just as much a slave to this oppressive system as the women are, and remakes himself accordingly. Nux was a heartbreaking stand in for all the War Boys. And the thing that detractors of the feminist images point to most, Furiosa acceding to Max’s plan instead of her own, was to me a powerful feminist statement. Because feminism isn’t about subjugating either gender, it is about equality, and equality includes using your best allocation of resources and not relegating one person’s ideas or contributions to the backburner simply because of gender. A tribe of warrior women could have been made into a caricature with them relegating the supposed oppressing male to the inferior position. That didn’t happen, instead they listened, discussed, and decided. THAT is powerful, and I can’t see any way it is anti-feminist. He didn’t drag them by the hair, or decide for their own good, he didn’t tell them. He presented what he thought and knew, and THEY decided.

So that is a really long manifesto on feminism and a movie. And for all intents and purposes, it is useless. Because very little of that is WHY I loved this movie. It is just why I was able to start from a place of not disliking it or being frustrated enough to just want to quit. I loved this movie because I love high octane action movies. Guess what? I love the Die Hard franchise and the Fast and Furious franchise. And this absolutely works on that level, so long as you don’t mind badass women. I loved it because it was a wonderful blend of cinematically gorgeous and pseudo gritty that was a feast for my eyes. I loved it because of a music score that plucked my emotional and physiologic strings like a master harpist, leaving me at times breathless, heart wrenched, despairing, and euphoric. I don’t think I could say it was “good” music, but it absolutely worked. And I loved it for the dozen different individual stories that were SHOWN to me instead of told to me. I loved it for being a movie that just dropped me into the story and expected me to figure it out rather than guiding me through it, telling me all about it, and then monologueing me to death.

In short, this is the kind of movie that took me out of myself for the allotted time, made my heart pound and race, made me breathless, and made my cheap ass forget to eat my overpriced movie snacks. I am probably one of the cheapest people you will ever meet, and not only do I not regret the ticket price (as I so often do), I am perfectly willing to pay and see it in theater a second time. This is the must see movie of the 2015 summer, and I would hazard it is the must see of the entire year, if not the decade. Yes, if you like action, it was just that good.