Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why Mad Max: Fury Road is a Good Movie, But Not Necessarily a Good Action Movie

(Image taken from:

Anybody who saw Mad Max: Fury Road will likely tell you it's one of the best action movies of the year. Hell, some might even say it's the best action movie of the decade (As said by one critic on Rotten Tomatoes, where the film has an astonishingly high score of 98%). But while I will agree that it is a good movie that is great in some parts and terrible in others, it's not that great of an "action" movie, and here's why: The good guys. None of them are badasses.

Now, I know this is a feminist picture and that Mad Max isn't really the protagonist in this movie. And that's cool. I'm actually fine with that and don't mind that Max is mostly a passive hero and relegated to being a sidekick. But that means that Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, was the protagonist, and frankly, she wasn't bad ass enough. Sure, there are fantastic scenes with her (Namely the one where she takes the sniper rifle away from Max and takes that killer shot), but neither of them really take center stage as a badass, making their plight feel not as intense and even hollow at times. In that way, the character dynamic feels somewhat weak, whereas a character like Ripley from Aliens seemed very strong as she took the lead. It was HER movie, which is what I wanted from Furiosa. It's almost like George Miller wanted to make her weak, which is understandable given the context. But we weren't given enough backstory to really push for her. With all the talk of Norse Mythology, I really wanted her character to be a valkyrie, a woman of war who takes no prisoners and cuts off ball sacks with relish. But she wasn't that. In that way, she wasn't a badass, making for a rather limp action movie. This might have been intentional, but I'm not seeing much written on that topic--the limpness of action.

In truth, the best characters in this movie were the villains, namely the main antagonist. I liken this film to The Dark Knight, in which the most fascinating characters are the ones we're meant to hate. In that way, The Dark Knight feels more like a crime caper rather than an action film. It's all in the protagonists.

Personally, I feel that Dredd is the best action movie of the decade and for the very reasons I mentioned earlier. In that film, we were given a tough as nails protagonist who takes no prisoners, and I think that's important for an action movie. What's an explosion without a cool person to walk away from it without turning around?

Perhaps, Mad Max: Fury Road represents the future of action pictures, ones where we're not supposed to be impressed by the heroes and are just supposed to ogle explosions and flame tornadoes. Films without heart. If that's the case, then count me out. Maybe I'm a dinosaur. That's just who I am.

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