The Mad Max trilogy took Australian cinema to the international audience in the late Seventies to the Eighties. Through this franchise the Writer, Director George Miller sketched an ultra violent apocalyptic landscape that took away the breaths of action flick fans. He had packed his product with car crazy racing stunts and it catapulted the lead actor Mel Gibson to international stardom. Miller has this time returned with an even fiercer, adrenaline pumping hardcore action adventure flick ‘Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)’ that takes chases and actions beyond anything visualized hence forth on screen. Every frame pumps in the survival instincts of the lead characters, which exemplifies the human tryst for survival against all oddities and challenges.
Though the action choreography of this cinema is much talked about than anything else in it, I find its screenplay engaging, for it conveys something allegorical about the role of power in the world, besides chronicling the undying urge of survival of human species. Somewhere in the apocalyptic future post a nuclear holocaust, the human species is near extinct except for a few who are ruled and controlled by a cult leader ‘Immortan Joe’ whose army of beastly bald heads calling themselves the War boys ready to take his orders at any time, in his land of Citadel. These war boys clash with other fellow warrior clans for gasoline.
The film opens amid scorching desert heat showing a road warrior Max (Tom Hardy) captured by the war boys. Despite his ambitious attempt to escape them, he is chained, turned in to a blood bag for ‘Nux’ a soldier who dreams of nearing the close aides of Immortan Joe and the much hyped ‘Gate of Vallhela’. In the next sequence we see ‘Furiosa’ (Charlize Theron) leaving Citadel leading a group in pursuit of finding gasoline. All hell break lose when Furiosa sets on her way ahead abandoning the path of her mission, Joe learns that it’s a plan of escape and for the worse she is not alone but leaving with his wives on board. He along with this war boys leave Citadel to get them back. The rest is high octane hardcore action packed with maddening chases on the dusty Aussie desert terrains spitting hellish heat that oozes in every frame.
Firstly the plot of the film could also be read as the depictions of power, with all its elements in controlling the masses, the striking contrast between the projected objectives and that of the actual reasons behind the actions and moves of the power centers. Immortan Joe controls his people by holding the control of water, their survival requisite. Power centers, be it Governments or Corporations, establish their control over the public by making them believe their survival and existence cannot be possible in their absence. They showcase their pseudo concerns over the public and spearhead missions in the name of their welfare, yet the real, personal motives remain hidden. Joe’s characterization can be read as an allegorical representation of the power centers around the world and their way of motiving their armies in the name of public interest that are in fact personal motives in reality. The film beautifully chronicles the political mechanism of power.
Secondly the film surprises with its feministic perspectives. Though the titular role is played by Max, a male the central role is actually played by Furiosa. The falsh backs and before-stories are cleverly packed within the dialogues exchanged by the characters. Through them we learn her saga in brief. She is destined to reach the ‘Green Place’ (the name sounds like a symbolism of the pleasant past or childhood she had had), the place of her birth. On their way while she explains the needs of their mates to Max, at one moment he asks her ‘What was her need?’. ‘Redemption’ is her reply. That one word sums up the emotional pursuit of the character. While she learns the Green place has now reduced to a dream and that can only exist in her memories, the purpose of her existence shatters and she cries at her voidness of the future. Yet when Max suggests to take back the same road, practically throwing the idea of easiness in taming the known devil Citadel instead of dreaming about the unknown angel that may lie beyond the ‘salt flats’, she bites it without much thought. She expands her pursuit of redemption as the pursuit of her people, a trademark quality of a revolutionary.
Furiosa’s character is not etched as a substitute of masculinity in the plot but her character maintains femininity of the self. She is vigorous, bold and brave yet never shows up anything masculine in her thoughts or moves. We have witnessed brave female leads firing the screen enough, already, but all of their character definitions would have been etched only as masculine substitutes or at least the masculine quotient is dominant throughout. The character Furiosa distances herself from the rest of the character moulds and that makes her unique.
Mad Max is for every action fan that throws mind bending stunts and breath taking visuals. The sharp cuts in the edits (especially in the opening sequences), blasting high voltage electronic musical score, and the amber tonality of the frames (they literally sets the screen on fire transporting efficiently the scorching heat of the desert) add to the tempo of the film.
Besides the mind boggling stunts, the film also gives way for the serious thoughts and observations as well. This work deserves your time.