‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ is part of a long-running series created by Nathaniel Rogers at The Film Experience. It asks writers to pick their favorite frame of a movie and expand on how it represents the movie as a whole to him or her.’
Not every great film is filled with great images. Mad Max: Fury Road is a great film though. And it has great images. So many of them.
In selecting a favorite, one immediately has to ponder whether or not to pick one purely on the visual level or for what it represents. I went the latter. George Miller’s masterpiece is rich in multiple ways, with poignant insight into religious fanaticism and the minds of terrorists. Perhaps its deepest vein is its feminist one. There are the comments about how this world of chaos and fire got to be in such a state. There is that ending, with Furiosa essentially taking the reigns of leadership over a struggling society.
My favorite though is amidst the action. Throughout Fury Road, character is defined by action; how we react to it and what we do after. Bonds are built from this, particularly that of Max and Furiosa. Little of their histories are known to one another, nor do they need to be. Equally, the conversations between the pair are brief at best. What do they come to learn is that they can trust one another to make the right decision when it comes to life or death situations.
Nowhere does Miller’s pseudo-silence and feminism come together greater than when the twosome are caught in the muck with the wives and Knux, wicked Immortan Joe’s equally twisted, bullet-toothed brother hot on pursuit. With only three shots available for their rifle, Max fails to meet his target with the first two. Furiousa sees this, recognizes the stakes of the situation and walks up behind Max. He says nothing to her. She says nothing to him. The rifle is passed. Furious aims, tells Max “Don’t breathe,” and makes her mark.
Usually, such a scene would be commented upon within the film. There is no need here and Miller knows it. He doesn’t pander to his audience. Instead, Miller has made a female action hero as capable, if not more so, than the male counterpart, who nonetheless retains her femininity.