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Movie Review: “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga”

By Bob Garver

Movie Review: “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga”

2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” was one of the most critically-lauded action movies not just of its year, not just of its decade, but of all time. I will forever curse “Pitch Perfect 2” for opening the same weekend and doing better at the box office, thus keeping me from reviewing “Fury Road” (for the record, I would have given it an enthusiastic B). While Tom Hardy’s Max was an important presence in that movie, audiences seemed to find themselves drawn to another character, one that had an even more commanding screen presence, did more to make the film instantly iconic, and more than warranted an expensive prequel. Alas, we’ll have to keep waiting for that origin story for the guitar-playing Doof Warrior. In the meantime, we have this movie about another beloved “Fury Road” character, Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa.

            “Furiosa” follows the character (played as a child for much longer than the advertising implies by Alyla Browne, then by Anya Taylor-Joy as an adult) as she is taken from her home in the lush Green Place and put in the custody of aspiring warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Surprisingly, he genuinely wants to take care of the child and sees her as a sort of daughter. The feeling is not mutual, as Furiosa seethes with hatred toward Dementus for killing her mother and raising her among his deplorable biker crew in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. When she sees an opportunity to be traded to crazed ruler Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), she takes it just to spite Dementus, though she quickly finds out that it’s not much of upgrade to be a breeder for Joe.

            Furiosa quickly ditches the breeder life and takes up as a mechanic on Joe’s many armored vehicles. She also gets in on the security detail for Joe’s best driver Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke). She tries to steal the vehicle to get back home to the Green Place, and while Jack can’t allow this, he does allow her to stay on as a student, and later as a partner. The two are caught in the middle of a war between Dementus and Joe, and even though both bosses are utterly despicable, Furiosa’s hatred toward Dementus is her literal driving force.

            The story is exactly what I’d expect a Furiosa origin story to be. Taken from family? Check? Robbed of her childhood and subjected to horrors at a young age? Check. “Toughened up” on her way to becoming an action heroine? Check. Loses her arm at some point (as we know from “Fury Road”)? You know that’s a check. Misses out on a happy future with Jack? The guy isn’t in “Fury Road,” so what do you think? About the only bullet point I wouldn’t have predicted was Dementus’s big fake nose, and the trailers gave that away.

            Admittedly, the appeal of “Furiosa” doesn’t lie in character development. It lies in the action sequences: all the shooting and stabbing and exploding from every vehicle the movie can conceive. And yes, you’re going to get that. Frankly, I contend that we get too much of that. As the movie went along, I had increasingly nagging thoughts of, “Let me guess, they’re going to settle this with cars and violence.” And I was right every time. It’s a wonder how this movie manages to be so long considering how many people get killed in every scene. It seems like the world should be plum out of people by the end. I’m not saying “Furiosa” doesn’t do the action well, it does it just as well as its multiple-Oscar-winning predecessor. To paraphrase a line from this movie that’s gradually weaving its way into popular culture: “Furiosa” definitely has it in itself it make it epic, but I’m sorry, I don’t think it has it in itself to make it interesting.


Grade: C


“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is rated R for sequences of strong violence, and grisly images. Its running time is 148 minutes.


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