Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – Reflections on Rage, Sorrow, and Redemption

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is one of those movies that lingers in the back of your mind long after viewing it. Fury Road is almost otherworldly while still being strangely familiar in this hellish carnivalesque joyride of an experience. There really is no other way to describe the wonder and spectacle of such an immersive experience. The movie catapults you into danger and hyper-action as quickly as you start the journey, wondering what lies in store.

With plenty of action and fighting sequences, we as an audience steadily begin to understand and sympathize with many of the character’s struggles. In today’s movie review, I’ll be reflecting on the rage, sorrow, and redemption elements portrayed in Mad Max: Fury Road.

After the first fifteen or so minutes of the film, the feeling of thrill and excitement quickly overcomes you when Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron) purposefully takes a wrong turn on the way to Gas Town. To the audience, it seems random. But after realizing she wanted to go elsewhere (the audience may have thought to Bullet Farm), it’s pretty apparent that we were in for a wild ride. We soon discover that Furiosa plans to save “The Five Wives” of Immortan Joe from a life of prostitution and misery.

Touching on the rage factor of Fury Road, what really cemented the excitement of the film’s crazy atmosphere and world-building was the music score (created by Tom Holkenborg, a.k.a Junkie XL). The music continuously pushed the story forward with an almost whiplash effect that left me feeling oddly satisfied and compliant with what I witnessed. It was almost tribal in nature, with no remorse on what the next scene would bring. The ruthlessness and carnage of the film indeed is a testament to Director George Miller’s passion for the film franchise.

Fury Road delivers where many other action-packed films fail with a cast as diverse as Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, and many more. From start to finish, it feels as though the audience is on the edge of our seat, trying to decipher what will happen at the next turn or figure out who will die next. 

The emotions Furiosa portrays are incredibly ranged. But even more startling is that Max and Furiosa’s strenuous relationship matches Theron and Hardy’s disagreements while filming. Certainly to me, that was the pinnacle of the film, which was one of the fundamental driving forces (pun intended) of the movie. 

Polarizing yet shocking similar characters literally at each other’s throats before they can even introduce themselves is one of my favorite story-telling moments of the film. Of course, what I’m describing is how Furiosa and Max formally meet one another. With such a violent showdown of the two characters, Furiosa and Max’s encounter left me literally speechless and in awe, as I couldn’t help but ask myself secretly: “How did the world come to this?” The way the scene was directed was beautiful, and more so, the way Theron and Hardy’s aggressive energy exuded off the screen was undoubtedly a delight.

Suffice to say, I could go into greater detail on so many scenes regarding the immense rage portrayed in the film. But I think we’d be here all day then!

For the next element of the film, that of sorrow, it was hair-rising how well the whole team of actors, movie set workers, and especially the director himself, created such magic. 

(The rest of this review has significant spoilers up ahead, you’ve been warned)!

To me, it was sad to see that “The Green Place,” once inhabited by the Vuvalini of Many Mothers, was nothing more than a poisonous bog. It was once lavish and able to grow crops. But now, as described by the small sect of women who are the last remaining survivors of a tribe belonging to the Vuvalini of Many Mothers, it appears “The Green Place” is just a place where scavengers remain. Nobody else can inhabit the land due to the toxicity of the area after it had become contaminated somehow (not quite sure how this happened. But perhaps this will be described in the next Mad Max film with actors Chris Hemsworth and Anya Taylor Joy?).

Either way, when Furiosa realizes her idea to save “The Five Wives” is futile – she has a brief yet very vulnerable moment of despair as she falls to her knees. She realizes there is likely no salvation out here in the wastelands of the desert. 

At this point in the film, the audience is faced with so much sorrow as the elements of overwhelming odds are increasingly stacked against Furiosa, Max, “The Five Wives,” Nux, and the small sect of women who now join them. It’s clear from the onset that either option leads to a painful death sentence. 

Either Furiosa must go back and face Immorten Joe or risk the lives of “The Five Wives” and her own life out in the barren wasteland. After a brief conversation with Max, She decides to go back to The Citadel (where Immortan Joe rules over the people with a deep reservoir of running water). 

At this critical moment, the film takes another dramatic turn towards a different storyline. It has now become a story about reclamation and redemption.

If revenge tastes sweet, I believe redemption tastes the sweetest amongst all comeback storylines. Especially when redemption is done right. In this case, Fury Road does not disappoint either.

Though not particularly my favorite, the last third of the film leads to a spectacular ending which is my favorite way to close out a movie in recent cinematic history.

The stage is set for a showdown with Immorten Joe’s rag-tag team of war boys against Max and Furiosa’s side. Of course, for a quick recap of their side, at this point in the film, Max and Furiosa still have “The Five Wives,” Nux. They have also acquired the small group of battle-hardened women previously mentioned (part of a tribe belonging to the Vuvalini of Many Mothers).

Without going into detail on the last road battle of the war rigs, here are the two main events that occur:

  1. Furiosa kills Immortan Joe (and they keep his body to prove to all the people of “The Citadel” when they return).
  2. Nux (played by Nicholas Hoult) sacrifices himself by overturning the war rig he takes over and makes the road leading out of Bullet Farm impassable. 

Thus, Max and Furiosa’s team have a clear shot to take back “The Citadel” and free the people who have been enslaved by Immortan Joe.

The ending is where the element of redemption finally seems to pay off in big dividends. It’s so beautiful and stunning how a small group of otherwise powerless beings comes together to overthrow a system wrought with injustice. And even against all odds, they were able to overcome the biggest obstacle in Fury Road’s world. 

To me, the ending scene when Max walks away and gets lost in the crowd, while Furiosa and the others are being risen up to the top of “The Citadel,” was a moment that brought a couple tears to my eyes. No words were exchanged, but a knowing glance and a nod of the head are all that needed to take place for the audience to know that both Max and Furiosa would be okay (even if it might be fleeting).

Overall, I’d have to say Mad Max: Fury Road is definitely worth watching. It has all the makings of a legendary film and is a joyride, unlike any other movie in recent years.

Forever in Your Debt,

Leon R.M. Auguste

(Click anywhere here to view original credit for the photo used in today’s movie review!)

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