Mad Max: Fury Road

I haven't seen any other Mad Max films, but suspect there may be some subversion of the macho motor-head iconography going on in this update/remake/sequel. For one, Max doesn't seem to be 'mad' as in 'angry' so much as mad as in 'mentally ill'. A hero haunted by a daughter he couldn't save is nothing new, but at least the writers tried to work in the idea that avoiding psychic collapse involves setting goals, whether it's political hope for a more equitable and peaceful society, or a personal quest for redemption. Max's arc in the film involves the exorcism of the child he couldn't save, and a return to sanity.

And he's aided and abetted by a Ripley-fied Charlize Theron. Furiosa and Max become surrogate parents to a group of teenage girls forced to bear children by a patriarchal warlord. The storyline is ripe for feminist interpretation, although its credentials on this score have come under criticism from two angles. One (brought up by Mark Kermode) is that the girls are rather pretty, and there may be some having and eating of cake involved when it comes to portraying their objectification. Mileage (ha!) may vary on this, but I personally didn't detect much leeriness in the camera when they were revealed. More important perhaps is whether the girls have agency. This is where the second objection comes in – what is so feminist about women being (scarequotes!) "saved" by some dude? The writers try hard to differentiate the girls and give them at least a semblance of a personality in amidst the driving and shooting (they even manage a couple of frags towards the end). More tellingly, I think Furiosa's character was created to deal with the problem of Max swooping in and taking over their story, in that she deals out just as much whup-ass, and is instrumental in everyone's survival. There are women here with agency, even if Max is the principle agent (he is the one with his name in the title, after all). If the film doesn't entirely resolve this dilemma, it is at least aware of it, and I'm inclined to be charitable.

I think I mentioned somewhere up there about the driving and shooting? There's actually quite a lot of that, and it's all glorious.

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