“Mad Max: Fury Road” is the ultimate action flick - a total adrenaline rush of continual action, one long explosive car chase. It is a practical effect picture. Everything you see on the screen is real. Real people driving those trucks, real trucks rolling over and crashing in the Libyan desert. Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy did most of their own stunts. The production had military advisers for the battles.
Max (Tom Hardy) is captured by slaves - pawns of the powerful warlords. They drag him, kicking and screaming, to the citadel where he becomes the lowest of all of the slaves. He is used as a blood bag for the half-lives - the slaves who don’t have long to live. They are only kept alive long enough to sacrifice themselves in battle.
The citadel seems to hold the only source of water. The one who controls the water, controls the people. And Warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrn) controls the water.
Imperator Furiosa (bad-ass Charlize Theron), a seasoned warrior entrusted with the water truck, escapes with Immortan Joe’s pregnant “wives” (ie. his best breeders). When Joe searches the compound for them, the nursemaid taunts him, “You cannot own human beings. Eventually they push back.”
“I want them back!” Immortan Joe bellows. “They are my property!”
In this patriarchal world, the women are men’s property, kept as sexual objects and breeders. Their chastity belts are a symbol of how men control women’s bodies, sexuality and reproductive rights. Even mother’s milk is extracted, not to nourish infants, but as a product to be sold for profit.
The breeders are a metaphor for the feminine side of humanity. They have witnessed man’s atrocities. They see how old men enslave young men and throw them away as the fodder of war. “Our babies will not be warriors!” they proclaim. “We’re going to the green place of the many mothers.” They fight for a future for their children.
An accident frees Max from the front of the buggy. Max, only concerned with his own survival, carjacks the women’s ride.
Nux is persistent in his pursuit. “I am the man who grabs the sun while flying to Valhalla! I live, I die, I live again.” The women are even protective of Nux. When he is captured, they don’t let Max kill him. “He is just a boy.” Perhaps it’s their maternal side; perhaps they relate to him as a fellow slave. Nux tries to convince them to return to Immortan Joe by preaching his word. “By his hands he’ll lift us up.” One of the wives replies, “You’re an old man’s battle fodder. He killed everyone and everything.” “He’s not to blame.” “Then who killed the world?”
Through the women’s courageous example of compassion and hope, both Nux and Max grow. Max goes from animalistic survival instincts (only out for himself) to fighting to protect the future of humanity alongside the matriarchs.
Right now there is an imbalance in our patriarchal country. We have forgotten to protect and uphold our feminine side, our responsibility for our children and our home. “Mad Max: Fury Road” shows what happens when masculine aggression isn’t tempered with responsibility and caring. The worst masculine characteristics are given free rein to destroy, fight, conquer, exploit, enslave, and rape.
It took over 15 years for “Mad Max: Fury Road” to come to fruition, which may have been a blessing since the themes are so timely and relevant to our issues today. This dystopian vision may seem outrageous, but our planet is currently being devastated by our single-minded pursuit of profit at all cost.
As climate change reaches a dangerous tipping point, our Congress voted to decrease environmental protections such as the amount of emissions allowed from coal refineries. They continue to subsidize profitable oil companies who pollute our air and water.
In March, 47 Republicans tried to sabotage peace talks with Iran so a select few could continue to profit from our multi-billion dollar military complex. Our young men are cannon fodder for old men who profit from war.
It is inspiring how some big action directors are making an effort to counteract some of our negative, fear based programming. For instance, “The Hunger Games” demonstrated how the government uses fear and the media to control us. Visionary filmmakers, like "Mad Max: Fury Road" director George Miller, are using the subtext to illuminate important issues of our time.
"Mad Max: Fury Road" was also nominated for Best Picture and Visual Effects.