‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ Creates an Energy of Its Own

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CHICAGO – It’s no “Fury Road,” but “Furiosa” is a suitably high octane summer blockbuster that delivers the eye popping action that Mad Max fans come for. The film is a prequel to that Oscar winning film, with Anya Taylor-Joy taking over for Charlize Theron as the one armed, shaved headed all around world-class bad ass.

Theron positively stole “Fury Road” from co-star Tom Hardy, and Taylor-Joy holds the screen just as capably in this origin story. She’s a very expressive actress, telling whole stories with her eyes and burning with intensity, so we don’t really notice that she doesn’t have much in the way of dialogue. For better or worse, those lines mostly go to Chris Hemsworth as the villain Dementus. Sporting a distractingly fake schnozz, Hemsworth seems to think he’s still in one of the “funny” Thor movies. His winking dialogue … with attempts at humor … largely fall flat amid a sea of gear head monstrosities, war boys, and deformed babies.

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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

The film starts with a pint-sized Furiosa picking a piece of fruit in a lush landscape known as The Green Place. She’s abducted by a biker gang and taken back to Dementus’ fiefdom. Her mother nearly pulls off a daring rescue by cutting down bikers with a sniper rifle and fighting off whole hoards single handedly. Furiosa is held captive by Dementus and then essentially traded to rival warlord Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) after Dementus lays siege to Gastown, one of the three fortresses of the wasteland, along with Immortan Joe’s Citadel, which controls water, and the Bullet Farm.

Anya Taylor-Joy doesn’t actually take over the role until about an hour in, as she is mentored by War Rig driver Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke) who offers to help her hone her skills … and help her find her way back to The Green Place.

The film’s biggest fault is that it gets too bogged down in the post-apocalyptic world building. It also takes its own sweet time getting the story going, introducing us to Warlords galore and indulging in plenty of speechifying by Hemsworth as Dementus. But once it does engage, director George Miller shows he still knows how to stage pretty impressive action. “Furiosa” practices a little more digital wizardry than previous installments, but it’s still grounded in the thrill of practical insanity.

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Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

There is a bit of a hierarchy in the Mad Max series. None of the five movies are downright awful, but some are quite a bit better than others. After “Fury Road” approached, and some say it equaled “The Road Warrior” in awesomeness, “Furiosa” is a more “Beyond Thunderdome” experience. Good enough, but not in the same class. It may not prove to be one of the most beloved installments of the series, but second tier George Miller is still worth your while.

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is in theaters beginning May 24th. Featuring Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Alyla Browne and Lachy Hulme. Written by George Miller and Nick Lathouris. Directed by George Miller. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters

By SPIKE WALTERS
Contributor
HollywoodChicago.com
spike@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2024 Spike Walters, HollywoodChicago.com

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