Hi, I am big fan of MMFR now and find your writings very interesting. I am very confused why at the final battle Max and Furiosa not used any gun to self protected at all. Max do have some round at the beginning and then looking for bullets to refill. Seems very strange as he does not plan ahead at all (?) Or maybe I miss something?
Eh, I was originally gonna be flip and say “because ripping someone’s face off with a harpoon is way more badass” but then you got me thinking about guns in Fury Road. If I wander a bit far afield from what you were originally asking, hopefully it’s to interesting places.
For a movie that’s almost constant action, guns don’t play as big a role in the combat of Fury Road as you might think. In the world of the Citadel and its allies, Before-time pistols and rifles are kind of an elite weapon. Warlords and Imperators have them, but War Boys and Polecats mostly don’t. They have car-mounted machine guns and harpoon launchers, and all kinds of DIY weapons, some of which fire projectiles, but they mostly rely on throwing shit with their bare hands. (Given this, the fact that Furiosa has not just one or two but something like nine guns in her rig should tell you something about her status.)
Fury Road is also not one of those movies where the heroes have magically regenerating ammunition–in fact, being low on ammunition is a major plot point. So it’s possible that when Max is hunting around for more ammo after shooting at Slit, there just isn’t any left in that caliber. But more generally, if you don’t have infinite bullets you’re going to use your guns when they’ll be most effective.
When thinking about self-defense, remember that this is Fury Road, so no one fights alone. Furiosa is used to fighting with a team. So for the first part of the battle, when she’s driving, her self-defense is actually other people. She does plan ahead for that part of the battle, by stationing her kinswomen–who all happen to be really good shots–all over the rig, and on a moving bike that can weave around and pick people off.
Even though Furiosa is also a good shot, she’s already using her strongest weapon in this situation, which is a giant fast murder truck that she’s really good at driving.
In general, Max and Furiosa use guns and other projectile weapons when their targets are at range. Furiosa uses an explosive crossbow bolt on the Polecat who kills Keeper, and Max (rather rudely) uses the ramrod from one of the other Vuvalini’s rifles to shoot Chainsaw Polecat before he can attack Furiosa.
But the final battle, more than any of the other action sequences, involves a lot of boarding of vehicles and a lot of hand-to-hand fighting. Except for Babyface McStabby, who has some kind of crossbow, most of the Polecats have melee weapons. None of them seem to have guns.
If a Polecat is swinging some weaponized garden equipment at you, it may be more effective to whack them with the heavy metal boltcutters that are already in your hand than to take the time to draw a gun, even if you have one. One of the things that makes the fights in Fury Road exciting is that anything can become a weapon, and in hand-to-hand combat an everyday object may prove more useful than a gun.
You may ask why Furiosa doesn’t take a gun with her to the Gigahorse. Maybe she thinks there are enough weapons on board that she’ll be able to figure something out. Maybe she doesn’t really have much of a plan at that point other than to stay alive long enough to fuck some shit up. She says “I’ll get him out of our way.” There are many potential ways to do that, although because of action movie conventions we know she is probably going to end up killing him. I think at that point it’s clear that she’s ready to die. So self-defense in that moment isn’t really about her long-term survival, but about living long enough to finish the mission. Similarly, Max launching himself at Rictus is more about him distracting Rictus from Furiosa than Max necessarily winning the fight.
Regarding “thinking ahead” more generally, one of the other things that’s great about the action sequences in Fury Road, and all the Mad Max movies, is how much unintended consequences and pure dumb luck come into play. To pick just one small example: Furiosa brakes to stop this Polecat from attacking Max:
But that means Babyface Polecat is able to hang on to the Rig and come back to stab her…
…which he probably wouldn’t have been able to do if Toast had been in her seat on that side of the Rig and/or Keeper hadn’t been dying.
Fury Road is full of examples like this, and this sense of chaos and unpredictability is part of George Miller’s style of action. Here’s a really good short video that goes into this idea some more:
From a character perspective, what this means is that characters can make an elaborate plan (how long did Furiosa spend planning every aspect of this escape?) and things will probably go sideways and they’ll have to think on their feet anyway. The race back to the Citadel wasn’t part of Furiosa’s original plan at all–24 hours earlier she was going to the Green Place, expecting never to see the Citadel again.
What makes Max and Furiosa great warriors and survivors is their ability to improvise, react quickly and not panic, fight with what’s around them, and make shit up as they go along just well enough to stay alive.