Opening this week

Film review: Mad Max reboot 'Fury Road' teaches superhero films a thing or two about action

Visionary Australian director George Miller infuses his action spectacles with pacifism, environmentalism and feminism.

One of the master purveyors of the post-apocalyptic landscape where humans have been reduced to their natural animal states and will stake everything for mere survival is back with yet another eye-popping allegory. Visionary Australian director George Miller’s fourth Mad Max movie, made after a 30-year gap, is set in a dystopia marked by a severe shortage of water and natural energy resources, desertification, genetic engineering and a culture dedicated to war and the enslavement of women.

The first Mad Max film was an examination of outback anomie, the second one looked at severe fuel shortages, while the third (which was also the weakest) was set in a slave colony where pig excreta is converted into fuel to run humankind’s last outpost. Suggesting unconventional solutions for the pressing problems of the world that we are leaving behind for the future generations, Miller has managed to infuse his action spectacles with anti-war and pro-environment concerns that make them an effective companion in climate change debates.

Fury Road makes a  nod to Mad Max 2, in that it is one long road movie featuring a band of crazies chasing a lone vehicle containing the last  good people left on the planet. There are also elements from the third part, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, especially in the slave colony governed by genetic freak Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played in the first Mad Max in 1979) and where Max (Tom Hardy) is initially held captive. Immortan Joe, who has a death mask for a face, and his chalk-white minions (called “war boys”) rule over the populace by controlling the water supply and replenish themselves by harvesting the blood of healthy humans. When Furiosa (Charlize Theron) escapes along with Immortan Joe’s wives, who are part of a programme to breed a pure, defect-free race, she sets into motion a dangerous, thrill-filled journey across an endless desert. Max and breakaway minion Nux (Nichloas Hoult) hop on for the ride, but these female road warriors prove that they are no wilting lilies in need of care.

Moral purity amidst the mayhem

Miller’s trademark absurdist humour pops up ever so often in the middle of the stunningly directed and relentless mayhem. “Don’t get addicted to water!” is one character’s advice to the parched slave population early on in the movie.

As Immortan Joe and his war boys set out for the hunt, they are accompanied by the soothing strains of heavy metal, delivered by a war boy who never loses his nerve or a string in the most chaotic of situations.

The 70 year-old director’s eye for inventive visuals has barely dimmed with age. The make-up and costumes of Immortan Joe and his war boys are as striking as the array of retrofitted trucks and bikes that make this franchise an original. The dialogue is as functional as in previous films, and purists might even complain that Fury Road’s characters talk a bit too much.

Amidst the breathtaking action and no holds-barred violence, much of it computer generated but nevertheless realistic, Miller holds on to the moral purity that marks the Mad Max franchise. In this movie, the women are the pillars of sanity, hope and bravery. In one of Fury Road’s most effective scenes, Max takes aim at a target but then realises that he will probably miss and gamely hands over his weapon to Furiosa.

Feminism on the battlefield? Miller’s filmography includes the two Babe films, about the talking pig, and the Happy Feet animation series. He has piled on a few minutes of running time and greater wordiness with every new Mad Max movie, and has raised the profile of Fury Road through the presence of Hollywood regulars such as Hardy and Theron. Fury Road is both in 2D and 3D, which makes the on-screen violence more immersive and immediate.

But Miller is also as attuned to the headlines as he is to the audience’s hunger for pure, elemental violence that goes all the way down the wire. Fury Road’s twinned themes of the search for racial purity and the impact of war on women chime perfectly with the times. Every Mad Max movie contains a simple truth: when all options run out and the world as we know has irrevocably changed, men descends into their true beastly selves. Thank the heavens for women.



We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.

A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.

This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance. Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.

The evolving patient

Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.

The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.

Play

As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.

Play

So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.

Play

As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”

Play

By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.