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‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ defies genre tropes

The action blockbuster gets a fresh coat of paint

Coleman Andersen and Meagen Tajalle, Opinions Editor and Staff Reporter
Originally published June 4, 2015

Max is stuck in a wet cage. He scrambles for escape and fights bandits and is captured again. Bloodthirsty war boys blast each other to bits. A big ugly king, Immortan Joe, is the antagonist who controls the water supply in this desolate dystopia. Cars and explosions are big and loud.

The first impression “Mad Max: Fury Road” makes is a misleading one, because it has a lot more to say than the average two hour orchestra of explosions we’re used to in our action movies.

This is clear as soon as the main characters are introduced —a cast of strong women running from their terrible lives as the wives of Immortan Joe. They could have easily been painted as damsels in distress, but these women play instrumental roles in their own escape, led by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron).

For the most part, female characters are given subtlety and depth, save for one romance with war boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult). The romantic themes of this relationship are used in service of furthering Nux’s arc; many films have used this cliche, and seeing it in a film that is so otherwise refreshing was disappointing.

However, this arc is a commendable effort to bring in a character as a disposable grunt and then gradually give the part more significance.

Director George Miller touted the movie’s R rating, and it shows. The movie is violent and intense and the action is never padded down for the sake of a more accessible rating. The viewer is left with an uneasy, “how far will this film go?”

While watching, there’s something subtly different about the action. Miller decided to use as many practical effects as possible; the realistic look of explosions and violence is more captivating to an audience than CGI.

There is an interesting dichotomy between the graphic violence and restraint in regards to blood and gore. Miller doesn’t feel obligated to show everything and shock his audience, but uses gore sparingly for a more enhanced dramatic effect.

The action is refreshing, but the audience doesn’t get many breaks. The movie centers around a continuing two hour car chase, and even in the most intimate moments, characters are usually yelling over an engine roar and rattling along at breakneck speeds, and it can get a little exhausting.

Despite the loud action, there are numerous subtleties to be admired in “Mad Max”. When you look to the little things it’s a solid action film that was approached in an unconventional way, which makes it more satisfying to viewers.

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‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ defies genre tropes