The Best Films of the Decade: #11. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

| December 31, 2019
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The decade ends tonight, and here I am spotlighting the decade’s best films one day at a time, some you’ve heard of, others you should have.

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Few would disagree that the persistent nadir of the American cinema in the second decade of the new millennium has been couched in a safe concept that is as tiresome as it is curiously profitable: the reboot.  Over the past decade Hollywood persisted in remaking, reigniting and repackaging old product with the oft-broken promise of something new.  This has been the case torpid retreads of Red Dawn, Poltergeist, Flatliners, Halloween, RoboCop, Point Break, Carrie, Ghostbusters, Child’s Play, Pet Sematary, and all of those awkward live action Disney transplants.

Thank God for George Miller! 

Age 70 at the time of the release of Mad Max Fury Road, the third sequel in his post-apocalyptic series was not just a reboot, it was a clever meat-and-potatoes rethinking of an idea that didn’t really have much meat on the bone to begin with.

For starters, he has created the best action movie arguably since Raiders of the Lost Ark, a movie that gets rolling and doesn’t have time to stop; a movie in which the bright and colorful visual palette is so audacious and so fully packed that your eyes can’t catch everything that the director is trying to show you the first time around. Half the time you don’t understand everything that you’re looking at, but you don’t really mind.  The curious elements of the chase scenes are always surprising us from a guitar player whose instrument shoots fire, to the guys on sticks swaying back and forth like a metronome to the guys who are given their own separate car in which to pound on their war drums.

BUT! There’s something else going on here too, and this is what makes the film special. Under all of the flashy action movie bric-a-brac lays a very disturbing but at the same time vitally important feminist message. The story is essentially about a group of captive women escape their tyrannical captor who has kept in a vault to be broodmares and their plight sets this singular story in motion.

And STILL under that lies another level, an environmental level, purporting what the world, and more importantly our society, could become if we don’t start taking care of ourselves and our planet.

So there, there lay three layers and all play off of one another, wrapped up in the greatest action movie of the decade. What a crazy ride this is! What a unique visionary is George Miller. He is a man who can create something as violent and bloodsoaked as Mad Max and then pull the reigns back for something as sweet and beatific as Babe. What he proves with Mad Max is that there are original worlds to be created in the movies. It is still possible to make a great action picture that moves and pops and sings and excites us. He had a plan and he executed it beautifully. Just like his trucks, he kept his eye on the road, and he didn’t stop for anything.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
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