A BOF Film Review | FURIOSA


EDITOR’S NOTE: BOF welcomes back our Senior Film Reviewer JoAnne Hyde!  She was laid up for a while after an accident, but is back in the saddle! – Bill “Jett” Ramey

264 stunt men and women — that’s how many were on the payroll for director George Miller’s new film Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. And they are well-used in this rambunctious spectacle of brutality and death. If you’re a Mad Max franchise fan, you’ll definitely want to see it.  It’s a frequently intense but entertaining foray into the post-apocalyptic wasteland of a dismal future, the familiar theme of the franchise.

Filmed in New South Wales, Australia, the endless barren red cliffs and swirling sand storms enhance the war lords’ fighting for dominance and the young girl who is kidnapped and held captive by the worst of them.

Young Furiosa, portrayed by Alyla Brown, lives in a sanctuary of plenty called the Green Place of Many Mothers. Her tribe will go to any lengths to hide its existence from outsiders. Furiosa’s mother, Mary Jabassa (Charlee Frasier), tries valiantly to rescue her daughter and kill anyone who has seen their home. But the warlord Dr. Dementus, played clownishly by Chris Hemsworth, is too much to deal with, and Furiosa’s mother emphasizes to her daughter that she must find her way home: that must become her life’s purpose. And so Furiosa’s journey begins while she grows and learns from Dementus and later the infamous Immortan Joe, lord of the Citadel (Lachy Hulme). Dementus, Immortan Joe, and the leaders of Gastown and the Bullet Farm are constantly at war in a struggle to dominate the others.

Anya Taylor-Joy plays the adult Furiosa, a skilled and formidable antagonist to them all.  That the warlords consistently underestimate her allows her to harass and aggravate them, eventually throwing them into chaos.

Although the film begins with an intense and desperate conflict, the pace quickly diminishes, and the warring factions’ combat sinks into constant repetition. As with many recent films, it’s just too long. As amazing as the special effects and stunts are, there’s not much new here. After a dozen or so shots of crashing cars, explosions, bodies flying through the air, and blood and guts, I found myself thinking just move on already! My mind had too much time to wander back to Fury Road, a far superior film. The danger in making a prequel to a successful film is not providing an equally strong build-up for the continuation. The kind of off-and-on pace of the narrative was a distraction for me. I don’t think I was the only one given the audience applause at the end was a bit tepid. Only about a third of the audience applauded, and half-heartedly at best.

Thankfully, the History Man character (George Shevtov) serves as a narrator to clarify events and character motivation. With a tighter storyline and clearer continuity, a voice-over narrator shouldn’t be necessary – especially when he was already a character in the film. I was grateful because it was easy to lose track of what was going on! Transitions for Furiosa were too quick with less attention to her growth in skills to show what a powerful foe she was becoming. We all know what’s coming in Fury Road, when the indomitable Charlize Theron inhabits the Furiosa role. It felt like more growth for the young character was necessary for the presence Theron brought in the subsequent film.

That said, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, will please most fans and provide a decent vehicle for the big summer movie season. Watching the two lead actors makes the experience worthwhile. Chris Hemsworth playing against type as the main baddie, even though he’s given very little serious to say, gives him a chance to show his range as an actor. Plus, Anya Taylor-Joy’s amazing endurance as the ever-suffering heroine is to be admired. – JoAnne Hyde