PTSD on Fury Road

May 26, 2015

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road yesterday. It’s every bit as good as all the most positive reviews imply. Quite simply the best action movie I’ve ever seen. And yes, overtly feminist. And yes, amazing badass disabled woman heroine.

One other amazing thing I haven’t yet seen mentioned in any review is the explicit and vivid portrayal of Max’s PTSD, including nightmares and sudden hallucinatory flashbacks. This is the first time I’ve seen an action movie sequel that realistically portrays the level of PTSD that an action hero would probably have after living through the events of the earlier movies. The opening narration of The Road Warrior tells us that after the events of the first Mad Max movie, Max was left “a shell of a man” – but Fury Road is the first movie that shows us what’s happening inside the shell. 

A lot of those pathetic right-wing “men’s rights” misogynists have been whining about the film’s feminism, which to me is further evidence of how good the film is at getting its message across. I suspect that one of the things that bothers them so much about the film hits so close to home that they’re not even able to articulate it: guys like that like to identify with the action hero and imagine that they’d be as cool as him in similar situations.

By portraying Max’s PTSD so well, Fury Road reveals that Max’s stoic demeanor is not the result of his being too “manly” and “cool” to be emotional, but rather the result of his being heartbroken and traumatized. He’s not too “cool” to have feelings; instead, he’s feeling so much pain and fear that he can’t even begin to express it. To me, that makes him a much better character, a character I can care about. To insecure “men’s rights” jerks, though, I imagine it represents a devastating bursting of their precious macho fantasy bubble. Which of course is exactly what this world needs more of.



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