Movies

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” Review

Fear and loathing in the Outback

Whereas the seemingly never-ending glut of cinematic sequels, prequels, reboots and retakes has grown tedious in recent years, it’s at least mildly interesting that legendary Australian director George Miller has entered what we might call a revitalized era with new entries in his enduring Mad Max series. Nine years back, we got the most excellent and explosive Mad Max: Fury Road; now we have Miller’s first-ever offshoot/prequel—Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

Therein, the now-ubiquitous Anya Taylor-Joy (The Menu) shares the role of the enigmatic Furiosa, a role originated by Charlize Theron in 2015′s Fury Road, with the young Alyla Browne (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart). In short, our heroine is kidnapped straight away by the nefarious Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), a gloriously strange villain with designs on the wasteland’s only viable settlements: Gastown, the Bullet Farm and the Citadel, a city-state of sorts run by the imposing Immortan Joe (a role originated by Hugh Keays-Byrne—Toecutter from the original Mad Max—in Fury Road, but here played by Lachy Hulme following Keays-Byrne’s 2020 death). In short, he who controls the gas and bullets controls the Wasteland; cue all-out post-apocalyptic war as Furiosa comes of age while experiencing a version of the Hero’s Journey (™).

On the face of it, Furiosa reads like your average revenge tale: A wronged party driven by violent lust takes down those who crossed her. In the nitty-gritty, however, it’s a parable for innocence lost. Wrenched from the goodness and abundance of youth, Furiosa loses little pieces of herself until there’s almost nothing left—but glimmers of hope remain.

Taylor-Joy is all well and good as the singularly-minded warrior, but Furiosa is ironically Hemsworth’s film. Unshackled by Marvel Studios’ rigid morality, he’s a delight as the unhinged Dementus, and he straddles a combination of broken man with dark-yet-unknown backstory and playfully violent trickster; almost like Heath Ledger’s iconic performance as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight. Against his intriguing Dementus, Furiosa feels underdeveloped. Still, as it’s a Miller film, the bonkers automotive action meshed with the insanity of survival steals the show and leaves little time for character study. Furiosa doesn’t quite hit the dizzying highs of Fury Road’s nonstop carmageddon, but it does bust out the stunts at a frenzied pace. If that’s your thing, then congratulations. If you’ve not kept up with Mad Max, especially Fury Road, however, you might well be lost. Maybe it’s best, though, to just sit back and watch stuff explode.

7

+Hemsworth brings it; the action, duh

-Furiosa herself feels one-dimensional; more CGI than practical effects

Furiosa

Directed by Miller

With Taylor-Joy, Hemsworth, Browne and Hulme

Regal, Violet Crown, R, 148 min.

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