Other Media Review

Movie Review: Mad Max Fury Road

RedheadedGirl and I saw Mad Max Fury Road and now we are all ready to storm the
barricades of patriarchy with improbable vehicles. The plot of Fury Road is incredibly simple:  In a post-apocalyptic wasteland where water and gasoline are scarce and warlords rule, a woman named Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, rescues the five “wives” of warlord Immortan Joe. In the course of their escape, they team up with Mad Max, who is suffering from a whopping case of PTSD.  Trigger warnings for rape as backstory, violence, and pregnant woman in very extreme peril.

There’s minimal exposition and barely any dialogue or pause – this is a two hour long car chase powered exclusively by what TV Tropes calls “Rule of Cool”. It’s fun, and it’s silly (FLAMING GUITAR!), but it’s also intelligent and challenging, and we have all the thoughts.
























I had like, no plans to see this movie- I’ve never seen any Mad Max, and this summer is jampacked with fantastic movies, so this was going in the “maybe at a party” pile, until the MRAs got all uppity about “OMG WOMEN IN MAD MAX WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK” and then I was like “TAKE MY MONIES” and I regret nothing.

Everything blew up! Everything! Mad Max was basically a plot device! FURIOSA IS MY EVERYTHING.

Furiosa on top of a truck with a big gun being badass

CarrieS: I think this movie was a tribute to the power of fantastic trailers with a fantastic movie to promote. I had no interest until I saw a teaser trailer at San Diego Comic Con and I was all, “Well, I prob still won’t see this but it does look very cool.”

Then I saw the full length trailer and said “PUT IT IN MY EYEBALLS.”

Then I thought, “The whole movie can’t be that cool – they probably put all the good stuff in the trailer.”

And I was wrong.

The visuals, the stunts, the acting – the way a goofy, fun, bizarre set up had some very serious ideas behind it but they never got too heavy because EXPLOSIONS – I loved the whole package. I can’t wait to see it again.


RHG:  I don’t think the flame-throwing guitar was in the trailer.


CarrieS:  It was not and I squeed my head off when that dude showed up. I bet on opening night the audience lost their shit completely.


flaming guitar.  your argument is invalid. It is seriously a dude in front of a wall of speakers playing a guitar that is shooting flames out one end


RHG:  Like, many of the stunts were practical stunts. They really did blow up a bunch of shit. The polecats were Cirque du Soliel people. The old women of the Vuvani? A lot of them did THEIR own stunts. It’s amazing.

But we need to focus.

The backstory of Mad Max isn’t important- yeah, if you’ve seen the other movies, there’s layers of meaning to his flashbacks and whatnot, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. Everyone is fighting over oil and water. Society has fractured into parts, and everyone hates everyone else. That’s all you need. And the vast, VAST majority of that is shown, not told. That’s how you make a fucking movie.


CarrieS: The franchise has never made much sense in it’s basic world-building but one thing I like about this movie is that once you accept certain basic premises, they may not make sense practically (for instance, breast milk is not efficient – it take a ton of calories to make a woman produce breast milk) but they do work thematically.

And then once you accept these basic premises, things hold together really well. It’s a great example of the means (practical effects) supporting the end (a scene that you are willing to believe in despite many improbable factors) because sand really will clog the engine and stuff really will break. And when you are thrown into the story, with no exposition, instead of feeling like this is all thrown together, it feels like it’s an established world that you have to navigate without a babysitter. No one’s gonna tell you shit so just sit back and stare at the flaming guitar.


RHG:  Everybody had the best names. Furiosa. The Splendid Angharad. Toast the Knowing. THE VUVALINI.  Holy crap.

What worked about this is that the five wives, while they were ultimately the Macguffin the movie was centered around, they also had their own agency and made choices all through that affected the plot. Angharad using herself and her unborn baby as a human shield (with the best “come at me, bro” glare). Capable, being empathetic to Vox and bringing him on their side-everything was awesome.

The wives, looking confused.
This is what your face looks like if you think too hard about the basic premise of the Mad Max Franchise.  “If gasoline is so scarce why are people driving all over the place? Shouldn’t this be a franchise about bicycles or skateboards or something?”  Just relax and look at the flaming guitars.


I’m not sure who said it, but on Twitter I saw @silentkpants say “We’re seeing a whole generation of girls find their Ripley.”  That’s amazing.


CarrieS:  I agree that the wives having tons of agency, and I loved that they all took an active role in their own liberation.  They don’t have combat or driving skills – how would they?  But they show great willingness to do whatever they can do – keep watch, load weapons (and I loved it that they didn’t know how to do that at first, because neither would I), whatever they could do, they did it.  They all had different personalities and skills and they weren’t passive, even when their choices were ones that frustrate the audience (I totally understood why one of them at one point wants to go back).

I also loved it that Furiosa and Max have a connection that isn’t a romance.  I mean, there’s not a lot of down time, and he can barely function as a person, and she’s really busy.  To me, the scene where he gives her blood and tries to comfort her when she’s wounded was incredibly touching and it was even more touching because he’s not trying to get something from her like sex or love – they are just two incredibly wounded human beings trying to take care of each other as best they can because that’s what people do, or should do.

Hardy and Theron

Which, back to Furiosa – she doesn’t need a romance to make her hero’s journey complete.  She needs to connect to people because humans have to be able to do that, but she doesn’t need to win a guy.  And Max sure doesn’t win a girl.  The whole set-up of the plot subverts the “girl as trophy” narrative right from the start and stays true to that subversion.


RHG: I love how she’s like, “I do not need this complication… well, I suppose this plot device might be useful so I GUESS I’LL TAKE HIM ALONG I GUESS.”  I think you’re right, the ultimate message of the movie (besides “a flame-throwing guitar can only improve things”) is “Things go better if we work together, each according to her strengths.”

And Max was like “Welp, I guess I end up helping people, despite how much I think I won’t.”

I was so thirsty by the end of the movie.  SO.  THIRSTY.

duststorm from hell.


CarrieS: I have seen a lot of movies in which a woman is a good shot.  I’ve also seen a lot of movies in which a man hands a gun to a woman in order to teach her how to shoot (Aliens) or make her feel safer (Jupiter Ascending).  But the moment in which Max lines up a shot and sights…and sights…and then gives the gun to Furisoa instead of taking the shot himself, because she might be better at it (which she is, because she’s smarter, and she uses him as a tripod) was fucking revolutionary.  I tear up when I think about it.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen in a movie, ever.


RHG:  AND, when he gets what in any other movie would be a Crowning Moment of Awesome, it happens off screen.  He take a big gun, marches off into the darkness, there’s a BIG BOOM, and he comes back with a whole bunch of guns and covered in other people’s blood.  We don’t know what he did.  It doesn’t matter.  He blew up a thing, oh well.

Like, everyone involved in making this movie knew it was a feminist manifesto.  Everyone.  Charlize Theron, when asked “Where did that rage come from” was like “Where the fuck do you think?”  Tom Hardy knew.  George Miller knew.  EVERYONE KNEW.  Except the sad little fanbois who just can’t stand to have something that’s not about them.

Boo hoo.


CarrieS: For us, it’s a crowning moment of awesome and for Max it’s Tuesday.

This movie is a great example of how to deal with sexual exploitation without being exploitative.  As Saladin Ahmed pointed out on Twitter, “Fury Road is an R-rated movie w/a sexual slaver yet Miller and co. didn’t feel the need to include a rape scene.”  They just assume that we know rape has happened (The Wives are kept as breeders, clearly very very much against their will, hence the escape) and we don’t need to see it, because that’s not what the movie is for or about.  And the movie presents the wives initially in a fetishized way (dressed in flimsy white garments and soaked with water) – until we realize that Max isn’t excited about the women, he’s excited about the water.

One of my guideposts in evaluating an action movie is “Does the woman drive?”  Like, I love it that in Edge of Tomorrow, Emily Blunt’s character always drives unless she’s about to jump out of the plane.  In this movie the only times Furiosa isn’t driving is when she’s all “Here you drive I’mma shoot a shit-ton of people” or “Here, you drive, I’m going to fix this truck while it’s driving at like 100 miles an hour by crawling all over it with a wrench in my teeth,” which activities are certainly as badass as driving.

Want to talk about the one romance in the movie between Nux and Capable?  Because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH THEY ARE LIKE WIDDLE PUPPIES.


RHG: It was sweet!  I was about to say “He’s kind of dim” but that’s unfair.  He’s literally been raised to be exactly what he is – a warboy who will die quickly and is willing to do so gloriously.  She is literally the first person to see that he could be a person in his own right.  He had the biggest change in character growth.  She made that happen.  Also her hair was pretty.

I’m shallow.


CarrieS: It’s true, her hair was gorgeous.  Nicholas Hoult was basically playing the same character he played in Warm Bodies, with the same arc, only that character was slowed way down and Nux is sped way up (because of all those yummy spray paint fumes, I assume).  It’s an arc he plays to absolute perfection and even though he and Capable only know each other for about 10 minutes I TOTALLY believed in them.  It was another way the movie could talk about human connection without undermining the characters of Max and Furiosa who were not romantically inclined for both character and logistical reasons but who demonstrate another kind of connection.

Nux and Capable being adorable as always

The one thing that bugged me about the movie is that yeah, Furiosa has a metal arm, but it’s “OK” because it’s cool and she’s gorgeous, but other people with any disease or disability are presented as grotesque.

Of course you could argue that Nux undermines that – he is still quite pretty because dude he’s Nicholas Hoult, but he has tumors and weird lips and stuff and we still love him.  I also liked it that we saw quite a bit of Furiosa’s arm stump so it wasn’t all glossed over.  Still, I’d like to see Millar move away from the device of “This guys has an enormous foot so he must be gross and bad.”

It’s grading time!


RHG: A fucking +.  It was exactly the movie it set out to be, it’s the movie we needed, and the movie we deserved.

CarrieS:  Yes to the yes.  A+.  On a scale of one to ten, I give it eleven flaming guitars. Incredibly fun, incredibly fucking feminist.  Fresh and amazing and thrilling and somehow I felt totally invested in the characters despite the minimal dialogue.  All the A’s.

Note: Of course by now everyone with Internet has written something about this, but for crying out loud you have to read this hilarious satirical article in which Rex W. Huppke goes to see Fury Road despite warning from MRA.  His take away?

I strongly recommend that all men’s rights advocates steer clear of this dangerous new movie. In fact, stay indoors at all times. And while you’re at it, cease all communication with the outside world.

Seriously, be very, very quiet, lest you become feminized.

I’ll let you know when it’s safe to come out.

I promise.


Mad Max Fury Road is in theatres now and you can find tickets (US) at Fandango and Moviefone.


Add Your Comment →

  1. FeministMoray says:

    The AV Club article about MRAs and this movie is amazing. “When will we finally get a Taken movie that is not just Liam Neeson reading Our Bodies, Ourselves?”

  2. FeministMoray says:

    Oh and sorry I was so excited to share, I forgot to add excellent review, A+ review.

  3. Jamie says:

    Someone on Twitter said Tom Hardy spent significant time as a hood ornament. And he does. And I think that’s actually important because it really SHOWS (there’s the showing again, fuck yeah) how unimportant Max is in his own films. He is not the main character, ever. He is simply along for the ride.

    The man is a literal bloodbag, a human tripod (I swooned at that scene), a shield, a driver, a guard…but he is NOT the hero. At best, he’s the sidekick and I’d argue that here, he’s not even that.

    Furiosa is the hero, and this is an entire story about women and survival. Fury Road is a temple, where all your hopes and fears are answered. I fell in love with the film, and in love with Max’s obvious respect and devotion for Furiosa. She’s his Artemis, and he’s her faithful Aceton. They were partners and I adored their incredible chemistry. When he goes to relieve the pressure in her lungs, he looks at her and says “I’m so sorry”, in this intense, sorrowful manner. He has no desire to cause her pain, and in doing so it feels like he’s stabbing himself. I fucking loved that.

    Basically, I’ve been urging everyone to see this movie NOWNOWNOW and I’ve yet to see someone not like it.

  4. Ruby Duvall says:


  5. Ruby Duvall says:



    Okay. Okay, I’m better. So I was a little intrigued when I’d heard George Miller consulted with Eve Ensler of The Vagina Monologues fame on MM:FR’s script. I was pretty drawn in by the fiery tornado/sandstorm thing. Tom Hardy hugs puppies in his spare time and has a nice face. Charlize Theron is a queen. So I was already going to see this, but with a little hesitation.

    Maybe if the Rotten Tomatoes score is high, I thought. We’ll wait on that and see it the following weekend.

    Then I saw a RT score of 98-99%. Then I heard MRAs were being piss-babies about it. THEN I DECIDED WE HAD TO SEE IT OPENING DAY.

    OMG, we were so overwhelmed by the end with how great MM:FR is. I couldn’t do the post-movie talk because it was still all just sinking in. Fury Road has got to be the best movie of the year for me. Maybe of the past five or ten years.

    If you party people haven’t seen it yet, GO GO GO RIGHT NOW!!!

  6. Kim says:

    So, I wasn’t sold on watching this movie. I saw the trailers and most I felt was ‘meh’. Husband was stoked. Then the reviews came out and my friends went. The articles about MRA’s came out. And I went to see it in IMAX.
    I f*cking loved it, for all the reasons mentioned above. So now I’m telling everybody to go and see it and I’m contemplating going again.

    BTW, I don’t know about any of you, but I had no tangible idea of time while watching the movie. Like, has it been 30 minutes or 90 since the beginning? You tell me.

  7. chacha1 says:

    Wow, I had told DH to go see it by himself because I didn’t think I would like it (didn’t like the original MM movies) but now I think I’ll have to tag along.

    Charlize Theron is indeed a Queen.

  8. Redheadedgirl says:

    Cleolinda noted that she’s seen a lot of women going, loving it, and the immediately grabbing their moms to go see it again.

  9. Kim says:

    ::: SPOILER :::
    I wanted to add: I loved when, near the end, one of the wives actually turned one of the tropes on its head when she implored Immortan Joe’s son to help her get on the car Joe was in, only to turn around and use her position to help Furiosa get to that car. Like “Help me, I’m a fragile flower and I want to go home” turned vengeance. It was a very plausible way for her to help.

  10. Lostshadows says:

    My initial reaction* to seeing it was, “that was interesting, but I’m not sure I liked it much.” But I seem to be spending a lot of time thinking about it, which says a lot for a action movie these days.

    “If gasoline is so scarce why are people driving all over the place? Shouldn’t this be a franchise about bicycles or skateboards or something?”

    Of having their cars dragged along by camels. Which is what Max is reduced to a the beginning of the third movie, Mad Max:Did MRAs miss this one ’cause Tina Turner was awesome in it. (I may be misremembering the title slightly.)

    *The theater had no previews before it, so I spent a bit of the beginning wondering why they were showing a trailer for it. I think it colored my impression somewhat.

  11. Beth Not Elizabeth says:

    I saw this movie opening day. After the sandstorm when there is literally the first quiet moment the entire theater said “WHOA”. I had to remember to breathe.

    And I’m taking my neighbor to see it tonight, then I’m taking my mom to see it tomorrow. I will not stop until everyone I know has seen this amazing movie.

    You know how much I love this movie? I will pay a babysitter so I can go see it. That is true love.

    My husband said, “I don’t understand why it’s being called feminist. It’s just a really kick ass action movie with strong female characters”. Um, yeah. It doesn’t have to be standing on the soapbox feminist manifesto time. That’s why it is so amazing.

  12. Ruby Duvall says:

    OMG yes, that article!

    This one from “A Hysterical Man” (Erin Gloria Ryan) that showed up on Monday is also amazing: http://jezebel.com/the-new-mad-max-film-is-so-feminist-my-scrotum-killed-i-1705273679

  13. Coco says:

    So I haven’t seen the movie, don’t know if I will, but I want to thank you for introducing me to the Rule of Cool.

    I have experienced it many times but never had a name for it. Now I can explain myself.

  14. jimthered says:

    I haven’t seen the movie, but I did see the deleted scene — with Patton Oswalt! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw9YxhMjEr8

  15. Lucylegs says:

    So SO thrilled to see a review of this awesome movie here – saw it on Tuesday and LOVED IT. Posting here to share this post I came across on Tumblr, which left me in tears:


  16. SB Sarah says:

    @Beth Not Elizabeth:

    You know how much I love this movie? I will pay a babysitter so I can go see it. That is true love.

    That there is the highest of praise. WOW.

  17. Heather T says:

    I beyond loved this movie. Saw it twice already — it was even better the second time. I love this quote from an interview with the production designer “Q: Was there a concern that a bungee-jumping flame-thrower guitar playing blind mutant in a red onesie riding a car made of amps might be one element too much?
    A: Oh no, I don’t think that George is one to worry about going over the top.”

  18. denise says:

    I enjoyed it more than I thought I would

  19. LovelloftheWolves says:

    I actually waited to see the movie before reading this review – which I dont normally do. I dont believe in spoilers. But oh man was I glad I saw it. Its SO GOOD.

    I too was hesitant when the first couple of trailers came out but then when all the articles came out singing its praises I knew I had to see it. My BF and I rode our bikes (as in, bicycles and not motarized vehicles) to the theater and back, and riding back was a THRILL. We wanted to put sound stuff on our tires so we could sound COOL.

    (and yes to everything stated above. Its feminist without being OVERT and PREACHY. Furiosa is AMAZING and complex and great! And really dont think too much about the gas and the driving and the water and the milk and the cinematic ending scene (all that wasted water!)… The universe is complex and the movie barely scratches the surface. I actually really liked all the mutated, cancerous, un-pretty characters because its helps drive home the reason The Brides are Joes’ Brides *is* because they are pretty – and because they are pretty he keeps them in a vault to *preserve* their pretty. That and “I had a baby brother and he was PERFECT IN EVERY WAY” is super important in that world – because that indicates he was un-mutated and chromey.)

    OH and if you haven’t already read the amazon reviews of wilton silver color mist, you really should. 😀

  20. […] Foto: dailymotion, uk.ign, smartbitchestrashybooks, filmweb 1, 2, 3 […]

  21. […] Foto: dailymotion, uk.ign, smartbitchestrashybooks, filmweb 1, 2, 3 […]

  22. […] More good commentary on rape in Mad Max: Fury Road vs Game of Thrones AND Outlander (I also recommend their review) […]

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