Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)

Genre: Action Running Time: 2 hrs. 28 min.

Release Date: May 24th, 2024 MPAA Rating: R

Director: George Miller Actors: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Alyla Browne, John Howard, Angus Sampson, Charlee Fraser, Elsa Pataky, Nathan Jones, Josh Helman

 


 

B

efore Max Rockatansky aided Imperator Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) in overthrowing Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) and liberating the Citadel, the rebellious young girl (Alyla Browne) was a child in the Green Place, a paradise of abundance hidden among the sterile deserts of the Wastelands. But when power-hungry warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) viciously wrenches her away from her family, Furiosa is raised solely on lessons in pain and suffering. After the tyrant’s attempt to lay siege to the Citadel fails catastrophically, he then sets his sights on another of the Wasteland’s strongholds, Gastown. With his newfound monopolistic supply of fuel, Dementus forces a favorable trade with Immortan Joe, but loses Furiosa in the exchange. When tragedy – and an opportunity – again crosses Furiosa’s path, she wages a war of retribution against anyone and everyone who stands in her way.

One of the greatest aspects of “Mad Max: Fury Road” is the fact that it doesn’t require any lead-in; audiences don’t need to know anything about creator George Miller’s desolate world prior to experiencing it. It begins exactly where it ought to – and, almost humorously, ends in the same place. Yet into this purposefully ambiguous, engagingly mystical arena comes a prequel – that very explanation and origin tale that absolutely doesn’t need to be told. And so, from the opening minutes of “Furiosa,” there’s a cloying feel of justifying its own existence; what exactly can be shown that will enhance this perfectly devastated realm, brimming with cruel, violent, frantic survivors?

As it turns out, not much. The music includes some of the same components and motifs; the graphics and sound effects are obvious nods to the previous film; and sped-up movements return to make the action even more chaotic and unearthly. Plus, revving engines still pierce eardrums, sand dunes spread across the barren terrain, and the style – from props and sets to costuming and makeup and character idiosyncrasies – exudes a unique blend of awesomeness and grotesqueries. It may be amusing to revisit the Mad Max universe, but little has changed. “You might want to close your eyes.”

Histories and backstories abound, chronicling Furiosa’s childhood, delving into slower, sadder, darker details about how unforgiving postapocalyptic Australia can be. But, like so many franchises that use excessive sequels to dig deeper into how their worlds are built, almost none of it seems essential (the mystery of Furiosa is perhaps more alluring than the revealed truths). Learning the precise way that Furiosa lost her arm, for instance, doesn’t mean much in shaping her character or driving her motives; nor does the plain revenge plot here that oddly appears less intricate than the deceptively simple premise of “Fury Road.” “You’ve had a hard day, haven’t you?”

Fortunately, there are lots and lots of vehicles and corresponding mayhem, as well as a handful of new gadgets and gizmos. But as every subsequent chapter unfolds (a narrative scheme that tends to stifle the pacing, which already has issues due to the lengthy runtime), revisiting recognizable regions and reintroducing placeable people, it merely feels like more of the same. Miller’s domain, fueled by roaring motors, ramshackle structures, and barbarous entities, is discouragingly repetitious; this latest installment is a “greatest hits” sort of assemblage, still overflowing with striking stunts and widespread destruction, but struggling to present even a single sequence that can outdo those of its predecessor. And the lead part is something of a miss; utilizing the silent treatment for the bulk of it (Taylor-Joy doesn’t even arrive until an hour in), Furiosa doesn’t have the luxury of being the strong, quiet type set against Max (also the strong, quiet type), since she’s essentially on her own. And with the timeline meeting up so closely to “Fury Road,” it’s a shame that Charlize Theron couldn’t just reprise the role; there’s an undeniable authenticity to someone a touch older, who can convince that she’s been to Hell and back – which the unblemished, creaseless face of Taylor-Joy doesn’t exhibit. At least Hemsworth looks to be enjoying himself tremendously, reveling in the immorality of a lawless undoer, stirring up pandemonium to throngs of demented acolytes. “You are a freak!”

– The Massie Twins

  • 5/10