The Understated Subtlety of Mad Max: Fury Road

Absolutely no irony whatsoever is intended in the title of this post.

MAD MAX and I go a long way back. My interest was piqued when the first film came out in the late 1970s. The UK was a dull and repressed place in many ways back then and, as a nine year old, I remember hearing a respected film critic (Leslie Halliwell, I think) say that Mad Max was so violent it would never be shown on TV, and that, of course, just made me even more desperate to watch it. How times have changed. What would Mr Halliwell think had he still been alive today to see the newest Mad Max movie becoming such an incredible, and largely unexpected, cultural goliath?

Mad Max was a great movie. MAD MAX 2 – THE ROAD WARRIOR – was something else entirely. As a Cold War Kid, I think it had a lot to do with the apocalyptic setting of the second film, and the fact we were watching a character we’d grown to know in the ‘normal’ world, having to deal with the nightmare of a post World War III (we presumed) existence. That’s something that’s always appealed to me. It’s one of the reasons THREADS remains so chilling today – we grow attached to characters in the relative normality of their day-to-day existence, then follow the hell they endure when their lives are, quite literally, blown apart. Road Warrior set new standards and paved the way for a thousand pale imitations.

I even enjoyed MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME, though the years have been less kind to the audience-friendly third movie in the series and unlike the timelessness of the other films, it feels rooted in the 1980s (thanks in no small part to Tina Turner and her ubiquitous title song).

Back to the point of today’s post: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Sure it’s an incredible spectacle: a non-stop, adrenalin-fuelled, action rush of movie. But it’s also so, so much more than that.

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