Mad Max: Fury Road Is The Surprise Feminist Action Film Of The Summer

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.

The post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max: Fury Road isn't a desirable one. Humans have become savages. Resources like water are limited and controlled by a select few. Hope for a better future may as well be a fairy tale.

But, in the first 30 minutes of the film, between torture scenes and graphic battles, we hear the angry shout of an elderly woman holding a shotgun. She's pointing it straight at Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the film's big baddy, who keeps several wives to impregnate and rules by rationing food and water to the extreme. "We are not things," she cries.

From that point on, it becomes clear that this is a feminist film.

Charlize Theron plays Furiosa, who defects from the citadel to rescue Immortan Joe's wives, two of whom are pregnant. She's taking them to the Green Place: the Land Of Many Mothers, from which Furiosa was stolen as a child. We learn, however, that the Green Place has been overcome by rot and squalor and is no longer the fertile home it once was. Forced by necessity, the women who rule the Green Place begin to travel the desert.

Make no mistake: These aren't frail, confused, helpless women. They're badass, motorcycle-riding, will-shoot-you-dead-if-you-come-too-close women who have zero time for your shit. The women are survivors and carriers of human life, while the men and their obsession with battle seem rather ridiculous in comparison. Oh, and Max (Tom Hardy) is there, too. But, he's almost ancillary — a team member by the end, but never the savior. When Furiosa kills Immortan Joe, it is she and the surviving women who ascend as rulers. Max simply fades into the crowd.
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Of course, it's not as if the studio is marketing Fury Road as a pro-woman saga. In one two-and-a-half minute trailer, Theron is on screen for approximately 20 seconds. I'm no mathematician, but that doesn't seem like very much time, considering the story really belongs to Furiosa. (There's another version of the trailer that showcases Theron more, but you have to look for it on the film's site.)

In the trailer that's getting the most play, Furiosa has two lines: "Wanna get through this?" and "Go!" Neither properly capture just how powerful, smart, and driven she is. So, don't be fooled into thinking the movie is two hours of men blowing up everything around them until the male hero inevitably saves humanity.

You need to go see this film. Wins for women in Hollywood are too rare for you not to.


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