Mad Max Fury Road (dir. George Miller). 2015

With Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy.

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This movie reminded me a little of Spartacus, since it seems to be the story of a slave revolt led by a charismatic and good looking person with a personal beef.  It helps that Charlize Theron plays the part of Imperator Furiosa a singularly pretentious title.  Besides the many car crashes and chases and explosions, there is not a whole lot of plot here.  The drones who have no hair go after Theron who has taken along another escapee played by Tom Hardy (Max) who has a smattering of hair.  The rock music pours out flames from the top of the guitar, there are smashes continuously on the road, and some cars humorously disguised as porcupines, but basically, this is a movie about slaves trying to break free.

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The only way you can tell the humans from the drones is that the drones don’t need to cover their noses from the toxic fumes.  Cue up heroic music as Charlize gently pulls on her mask.  She says “I live. I died. I live again.”  Or was it Hardy who said it?  There is so little dialogue you would think I would remember.  To show that she too is damaged, Charlize has only one hand.  At first she is not interested in having Hardy in her camp.  She was supposed to be alone.  That was the deal.

Max survives by the skin of his teeth, but I really think that Hardy should have it in his contract that he never has to wear a face mask in a movie again.    Charlize is being chased because she has ferried the top breeders out of the Citadel where water is precious and jealously doled out in seemingly insufficient quantities by the tyrant.  There is humiliation of nearly naked women, some of whom are pregnant, or is this what some critics are pointing to as the neo-feminist cast of the picture?

The reason that Max is a slave forced to wear the mask is never given.  We also don’t learn why Charlize likes to smear blue-black grease on her face.  It is such a relief when Hardy gets free of his wire mask that you barely notice the plot point of running out of gas (wasn’t this the main story of the first Mad Max, a series based on muscle cars with no gasoline, quelle horreur!)

What I do appreciate about the movie is its use of open space and the feeling of wilderness or what might be called desolation.  The warfare has a medieval style to it, right down to a Genghis Khan sort of head dress.  There are other things to admire: the simplicity of the longing by Theron, who says she is looking for home, and when she finally arrives and finds it a complete wasteland, how destroyed she can make us feel with the mere bowing of her head.  The little dialogue that I liked besides the references to Valhalla, is when Max explains “You know hope is a mistake.  If you can’t fix what’s broken you’ll go insane.”

But the movie is long and preposterous and not believable in the least.  It reminds me of a Mark Twain essay where he complained about George Fenimore Cooper’s writing.  The main problem for Twain was that the characters who were killed didn’t stay dead.  And so it is in this movie.

Perhaps the whole point is that water is precious, more precious than gasoline, and being human means taking off your mask, and the land of all mothers is more important than a battleground.  In the end the water flows freely, and the slaves are released.  I just hope that they get to take off all of that white makeup the way Hardy got to take off his wired up muzzle.

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About Patricia Markert

Moviegoer.
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