The Habitrail Critic Hits The Road (Warrior)




Seriously, that’s about all I’ve got where Mad Max: Fury Road is concerned.

If I hadn’t been reduced to gibbering incoherence by 2 hours of unrelenting awesomeness, I would probably note, first, that this thing lives up to the hype. Second: I appreciate its feminist cred, even as I also appreciate that there might also still be gender (and race)-based points on which it could be criticized.

Most importantly, though, what really struck me is how elegant this film is. I realize that this is, perhaps, a strange choice of words for talking about a movie that essentially consists of one long, intensely destructive and violent vehicle chase, but I think it’s apt. In Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller has achieved an almost perfect fusion of narrative to action (unlike most current action movies, in which story is at best always chasing spectacle). Its emotions are genuine and earned, even in its pasta-with-crazysauce-and-a-side -of-WTF world. The stakes are comprehensible and immediate, and the characters (as bizarre as they often are) behave in ways consistent with their world and their conflict. There’s nothing unnecessary here — while the visual flourishes are fun (BOOM! SpearBomb!), they are a spice added to the mix rather than the point of it. As is typical of Miller’s Mad Max films, the dialogue (what little there is) is nearly incomprehensible quite a lot of the time — and it doesn’t matter, because it isn’t the words that tell the story.

This is what an action movie should be like.

When I compare it to its current action competitor, Avengers: Age of Ultron, I notice that while Avengers is great fun (it is), looks terrific (it does), and manages to get a lot of character work into a teeny amount of space (it sure tries), it’s still closer to the narrative-serving-action side of the continuum. Miller’s work unites action and narrative, while Whedon’s does a respectable job of trying to balance them. The difference, I think, matters quite a lot.


About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. For now, I labor at a fairly interesting administrative job in order to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
This entry was posted in aesthetics, Habitrail Critic and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.