Top 5 Problems with 'Mad Max: Fury Road'

Since a review can only examine the flaws of a movie so deeply, this companion piece aims to delve further into the major flaws that burdened “Mad Max: Fury Road”.

#5 The State of People

In the post-apocalyptic future of “Fury Road”, people are in really bad shape. Obviously lacking sustenance of any sort, they’ve become malnourished and physically altered, as a result. Speaking of which, why none of the women in the film comment on the fact Max is the only healthy-looking man in the entire world is baffling.

They treat his condition as a usual occurrence, despite the constant portrayal to the contrary. How people are surviving in the physical conditions portrayed lacks any credence.

The other question to arise in probing this aspect of the film is why it was necessary to portray people with special needs in a way that uses them to "illustrate" the supposed "downfall" of mankind. If that’s not insulting, I don’t know what is.

#4 What Action Film?

To categorize “Fury Road” as an action film is as sensical, as referring to “Transformers” as an actioner would be. Just because a movie features a bedlam of explosions, does not make it an action movie. “District 13”, “Taken”, “Transporter”, “The Suspect (Yong-eui-ja)”, “John Wick” are action films.

They feature dazzlingly choreographed fight sequences, car chases and extensive scenes of hand-to-hand combat. “Fury Road” only has the chase part down and it’s a tedious one at that.

The fights that do occur are fairly brief and handled in a draining manner that sees its participants ending every encounter in a virtual draw. Just when you think someone’s gotten the upper hand, they lose it.

The tug-of-war is altogether agonizing and far from gratifying. There are no champions, just characters clawing their way to barely survive the skirmish.

#3 The Romance

“Fury Road” takes its most awkward detour when it embarks on a romantic interlude as one of the Five Wives falls for one of the War Boys, a crazed zealot named Nux (Nicholas Hoult).

This is perhaps the most apparent flagrant foul of the movie, as nothing justifies its inclusion. That said, expecting a romance to make any more sense than how humans are surviving in the deplorable world depicted, is a fool’s errand.

Nonetheless, the question must be posed, why would Riley Keough’s character, who behaves like a fairly mature adult woman, be interested in a depraved juvenile such as Nux? The film is being lavished with all of this praise for its handling of female characters and yet this plotline is downright disturbing.

The suggestion that a woman would settle for a deranged adolescent and that is somehow romantic reeks of a setback.

#2 The Female Characters

Having women front and center in an action film isn’t a groundbreaking addition. Having a fully realized female heroine is and “Fury Road” fails to deliver on that front.

In comparison to Eva Green’s fearless anti-heroine, Artemisia, in last year’s “300: Rise of an Empire”, Furiosa falls furiously short. Green’s Artemisia was a woman on a mission that one could easily climb aboard with. Bent on a righteous quest to avenge her family and herself, her character rightfully stole the show. She earned it.

Where that film managed to balance a fierce story of feminine empowerment, “Mad Max” fails miserably. Furiosa’s motives are hazy, her backstory unintelligible and her desire to help a band of women who spend most of the movie’s duration either whining or smirking is inexplicable. 

Having female characters front and center for the sake of having them front and center is not a huge improvement over not having them in a movie at all. Even worse, the main concept behind the film’s portrayal of strong female characters seems to rest in having a weakened male protagonist.

Furiosa and the rest of the women aren’t strong in their own right, they only seem that way in comparison. Making one party feeble does not make the other strong. This is simple plot mechanics.

#1 Wasting Tom Hardy

With his face obscured for what is seemingly a third of the movie, Tom Hardy finally emerges from behind Max’s iron mask to fight for freedom and briefly lead a movie, which is supposedly based around his character.

Hardy is one of the best actors currently working, so to see him reduced to a few lines in one less than stellar sequence after another is nothing except sad.

He’s one of the rare actors who can navigate quiet character studies (“Locke”), bombastic villainy (“The Dark Knight Rises”), suave charm (“Inception) and soaring heroics (“Warrior”), so why is he being wasted in a thankless part that gives him little on which to build a rapport with wider audiences? Why waste a talent as viable as his? It’s maddening.

Hardy has proven he has what it takes to shoulder a film full tilt and instead, he’s left holding the bags for characters that are not worth the effort.

Instead of seeing an actor that could convincingly kick ass do so, he is relegated to playing a character that's constantly struggling to survive.

Related: Movie Review for "Mad Max: Fury Road"