I think the thing I love the most about Mad Max: Fury Road is the fact that while it holds out this persona as ‘hey look some classic post-apocalypse action flick’, it actually breaks and twists a ton of genre tropes. It’s a futuristic desert world, but there is COLOR COLOR COLOR literally EVERYWHERE, it’s not some sepia-toned snooze fest. Immortan Joe isn’t the usual post-apocalypse villain, either–he’s not a sickly philosophizing bureaucrat, he’s just over-powerful and shamelessly selfish. (Plus the overabundance of cool females is fairly unusual in an action movie and exceedingly welcome, but that’s a dead horse I’m going to refrain from beating here).
But my favorite subverted trope in the whole film comes at the end. Like a The Book of Eli or I Am Legend, the movie holds forth the promise of some semi-civilized remnant of humanity that the heroes have only to reach to be safe. The entire plot revolves around Furiosa, and eventually Max, trying to get everyone to the Green Place of Many Mothers; somewhere where plants and kindness still exist, somewhere where the horrors of Immortan Joe’s tyranny can be left behind and forgotten. And then comes the kicker: the Green Place is no longer. It’s as dead and poisoned as everything else, turned into a noxious, useless swamp. And then the heroes have a choice: keep running towards some distant Green Land, some half-hopeless promise–or go back and fight. And THEY GO BACK. And they FIGHT. And in fighting, they save not only themselves but who knows how many others–all the people living under Immortan Joe’s sorry excuse for a rule.
I just love that the solution was not, for once, simply to flee and ignore and save yourselves, but to turn, to hold your ground, and to destroy the evil instead of letting it destroy anyone or anything else.