Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Max The Linchpin Hero

Mad Max: Fury Road

Vague spoilers. FYI.

Sell the house. Sell the car. Sell the kids. 

There has not been a film like this for a very long time. I'd almost forgotten a film like this could exist. I skipped Avengers Age of Ultron. I know what to expect.... More formulaic characters with a few tentpole action scenes thrown in here and there. I already know the story from the trailer. I'm sure it all gets worked out in the end. I can wait for the Bluray. 

With Fury Road, I had no idea what the hell was going to happen as I sat and watched. The trailer showed a lot but it did not spoon feed me the plot so that I could already see the end before even handing over my money. 

We're not spoon fed Max's backstory like the comic book films continually do when they force-feed endless origin films that everyone already knows. Like Spider-Man's origin, again. Yawn! Fantastic Four origin, again. Double yawn! 40 minutes of Max's background? Nope! Fury Road did not waste your time telling you what you already know. Every second of the film was carefully engineered to push the story forward, even if you were not ready to be pushed forward. 

This is not just a film with 20 minutes of action stitched together with weak, inexpensive talking scenes that attempt to tell a story. This was a biblical tale with Max Rockatansky as the linchpin for the entire adventure. 

Yes, he's the linchpin.

Max is the hero on the hero's journey. Without Max, the entire plot falls apart. He is pulled in by forces beyond his control. Max is not a superhero. His ability to overcome conflict is not always a given, and that's why the film is so amazing. When the hero's outcome is not a foregone conclusion, then the audience becomes more invested in the character. He does not always outwit the forces against him. He is not infallible. He has flaws. Max's character, background, wits, and skills also figure in—but sometimes fate, luck, chance, and happenstance all play a part. The screenplay is so well-written you can't sense the writing. The action also does not let up. The only time you have a moment to breathe is when Max has a moment. And there are not many of them. 

Yes, it's true, Charlize Theron's character is very much the protagonist in this story. Others have criticized her character and the plot as feminist propaganda. WTF? Only male-chauvinist caveman thinking would arrive at such a conclusion. This is a classic and complex story that is much larger than the lone-wolf Max. He just becomes a part of Furiosa's adventure. And although the Furiosa character is the true protagonist, without Max there as the linchpin, the story would have collapsed. Furiosa would likely have failed. Max is essential. Just like in The Road Warrior—where without Max as an unwitting decoy, the adventure would have failed, imploded, collapsed. Remember Road Warrior? Max did not care. He did not want to get involved. He got his ass kicked. Eventually he gave in to fate and played his part in the bigger story that played out before him. He gave in to destiny and played his role. Fury Road had a different story, but Max fell in and out in much the same way. 

"As for the Road Warrior... That was the last we ever saw of him. He lives now... Only in our memories."...until the next film, where he'll likely wander into some chaos that is much larger than himself, again somehow figuring in as the story's linchpin hero.