This films eaten me alive fucks sake for fuck
The first fight between max and furiosa is just !!!!! That whole sequence could have been the movie and I’d have been happy. So like max wakes up buried under a heap of rusty sand (and Tom hardy fucks sake how unpleasant mate muzzled and gagged with metal and sand that’s a days wage that boy earned there top lad) and he surges up, a brilliant shot in a film full of them, and he’s so visibly terrified. Max is visibly terrified a lot of the time. He’s caged and muzzled like a rabid dog, and when it comes to the fight his head is yanked back harshly and constantly and he growls his way through 70% of the movie and he’s treated like an animal. First like cattle, branded like livestock, by the war boys, then like a dog too dangerous and dumb to be unconfined. He’s twitchy and volatile and I honest to god covered my face when he put the shotgun against nux’s wrist.
He stumbles across the brides getting down to business cleaning themselves, and it could be borderline pornographic but it’s not. It’s just practical, something that needs done, but there’s also a still exhaustion and quiet camaraderie that they’ve done it. This massive rebellion that they’ve probably planned for months or years is now a thing, and it’s happening, and they’re free for the first time in a long time. And furiosa is checking the rig, the big beast that’s going to keep them alive and is going to carry them to the promised land. It’s not peace, it’s the calm before the storm and the day is not done, but it’s a glimpse of genuine respite that max totally destroys.
He’s terrified, he’s traumatised, and he charges toward a group of terrified and traumatised woman with a shotgun in his hand and what looks like a corpse over his shoulder…not the best first impression. And he’s commanding, demanding, he’s clinging desperately to the upper hand but these woman have just stuck up their middle finger at the upper hand and very quickly the balance of power begins to tip and you feel it slipping away from max.
It’s a group united against him and the whole god damn burning world, and their power comes from their bond. This film is very very good at looking at the connections, behaviour and power of female community. From the brides to the old motorcycle women to furiosa and her mother. Max and later nux are accepted into these communities because they’re ‘reliable’, they earn their place, they prove themselves. It ends up very obviously matriarchy pitted against patriarchy, with max and nux defectors from the latter (even though most of those working under the ‘patriarchy’/immortan joe are brutalised, abused, victims of the same man and hello patriarchy is also detrimental to men argument,my old friend). Those who live under immortan joe are living half lives, they’ve lost all humanity. Max and Nux, who are absorbed into furiosas rebal woman band, find their humanity again with them.
So back to max finding the wives and making every mistake he could because like, they’re terrified too. Furiosa and max beat seven bells out of each other, max constantly being wrestled like an animal, his head wrenched backward and it’s a bloody ferocious fight, showing that furiosa is strategic and precise and that max is reactionary and desperate, he’s scraped to the bone. They’re quite an even match, even though they’re so different.
Furiosa is clever though and quickly realises that max is a walking gaping wound and he’s so scared and furiosa is scared too but at least she doesn’t have a metal grate on her face. That’s how she gets him. She offers to take his muzzle off. From then on, she has whatever counts as loyalty in this universe from him. They’re evenly matched physically but furiosa understands him a lot quicker than he does her. Because she still hopes. She’s still looking for something in people. People like max, who have had all humanity stripped from them.
Max being reduced to an animal is obviously a real point of upset for him and the viciousness with which Tom hardy chisels the muzzle off says loudly and clearly how much it bothers him. You don’t need dialogue there, the way he takes that mask off is like a visual scream.
The film is about a lot of things, but finding a grain of humanity in the struggle for survival crops up over and over again and it lets you find the redemption the characters are looking for in this cesspit of a world. For something so genuinely horrifying at points, it had a real stroke of hope and optimism that is genuinely heartfelt. It had the feeling of a world that has overcome the brutality of its past, looking back at the legends who started them on their way to finding their better selves.