Sunday, May 17, 2015

I'm the guy who didn't like Fury Road

I wanted to. I wanted to like it. But the screenplay is not that awesome.
Max has very little impact on the entire story. He makes no decisions. The titular character is figuratively and literally muzzled for half the entire movie.
The opening image is stunning. Spectacular. So full of potential.
Yup. The bar here is pretty high. That's because the bar is Mad Max II, The Road Warrior. Every single scene in that movie tells you about the characters. The first four minutes of The Road Warrior are wordless and a brilliant establishment of characters. We learn the entire world in one very simple car chase. We learn that fuel is precious, we learn that Max is smart (a better driver than others -- he never fires a shot and lets the bad guys shoot one another). We learn that Wez is a bad-ass dude who can take it as well as give it.
We learn nothing about Max in Fury Road. Maybe 3/4 of the way through the movie he makes a good strategic suggestion. Suggestion!
In fact, if you eliminated Max himself from this movie it would have been a vastly better movie. Actually, I suspect that there was a time in the evolution of the screenplay when Max wasn't in the movie. Because there is an active lead character -- one who makes decisions -- and it ain't Max.

 Furiosa, in fact, does some very Max-like things. After getting through the wall she puts her arms up, effectively "surrendering" to the biker dudes inside the wall. This sort of echoes the way Max approached the refinery with the injured man at the beginning of the second act of Road Warrior. And, of course, she makes the fateful decision to return (even if Max suggested it).
And, of course, the events of the entire movie revolve around the fact that she's rescued the wives and escapes into the wasteland. Max is shackled and strapped to stuff for the first hour of the movie so nothing he does actually makes any difference up through then. Like literally nothing. If he had just stood there outside the car in the opening of the picture when the bad guys came after him the results of the rest of the movie would have been the same.
Okay, the scene with the two dudes spitting gasoline into their blowers is great. Is it as awesome as the shot coming out of Max's blower at the top of Road Warrior? No. But it's pretty cool. The thing is, it tells us more about the character of the war-boy dude than it does Max or anyone else.
Also, I found myself memorizing 1, 1, 2, Black, Red (it may have been "Black, Red"). But that whole thing? Totally irrelevant. The switch on Max's V8's guzzoline tank from The Road Warrior? Vastly critical to the rest of the events in the movie.
So yeah. I compare Fury Road to a movie which has a perfect screenplay (note that the version of the Road Warrior screenplay on the Interwebs has a different, and less good, 3rd act than the final edited version.)
So. I'm that guy.


Kangas said...

I liked it a lot, but I too found Max to be a little too passive. I agree with most of this guy's reasons:

Andrew Bellware said...

Yeah, that's a good review in Forbes.
I just wanted Fury Road to change my life... that's all I wanted. ;-(