Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hopelessness in "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015)

I think my experience of this film was clouded by the fact that it was being reviewed so strongly. After all, when I went to see it it was already ranked the 25th best film of all time by IMDB. By the next day it had climbed to 23rd. I do not think it will hold that spot for very long. Reality has to set in eventually

Don’t get me wrong. It is a masterpiece of action. But it is not perfect and it is not better than all save a couple dozen movies ever made.

In spite of all the amazing action choreography and practical effects, and all the amazing cinematography and world-building, it is not a story per say. Instead we get a two hour race/chase populated by cardboard cutouts of characters.

What is amazing here is the world building. In spite of the fact that we do not really get a fully realized story, the world in which this film takes place is. One can infer and deduce much of the backstory and history of the world we are seeing from the many well-placed and precisely-thought-out clues that Miller intersperses into the frenetic action. Things like how Nux’s mouth got to be the way it is or how Furiosa knows the way to the promised land and what her real connection to the brides is are hinted at clearly.

That said, unlike a lot of fantasy worlds that people have invented, no one wants to escape to the land of Mad Max. And that is a problem for the film.

Even though the film is basically a chase, there are messages and social commentary to be found. And not just in the tacked-on, seemingly deep, quote at the end of the film. The evils of religion created by people to control others or the dangers of placing faith in pure, unfounded, untestified hope are played with in this story. “Hope is a mistake,” claims Max. He is right when you are merely hoping for the best in a crazy world and your hope is not based in someone but in pure wish.

Unfortunately, those themes are approached from a dark, nihilistic world where there is no god and no real good either. That is the other problem for the film.

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