Keith’s Movie Korner: ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ is a must-see Western in sci-fi clothing

By Keith Walther | Rose Law Group Reporter

Epic gun battles, tension filled chases across a harsh, desert landscape, and rampant lawlessness make it sound like a classic John Wayne or Clint Eastwood driven western instead of the sci-fi film that it is. “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is the prequel to “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and it lives up to its predecessor’s legendary status. This is a tale of revenge nine years in the making that is well worth the wait.

After the end of the world, there were very few places of refuge left. As a young child, Furiosa (Alyla Browne) was being raised in one such place, a hidden oasis of abundance nestled in the Wasteland, until she is violently taken by Dr. Dementus’ (Chris Hemsworth) biker horde. Dementus shows her a savagery she never knew existed, forming a foundation of blood boiling anger that would fuel her quest for vengeance over the years.

When they cross paths with The Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), a struggle for dominance over the Citadel begins. Grown into a young woman, Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) has learned skills and savagery of her own to survive the brutalities of the Wasteland. With nerves of steel and a blatant disregard of danger, Furiosa launches her quiet reign of vengeful terror, looking to destroy everyone responsible for robbing her of everything she ever cared about.

It’s hard to believe that writer/director George Miller first brought audiences the world of “Mad Max” back in 1979. A lot has changed since then. That first installment was done with a shoestring budget, but his post-apocalyptic vision captured the imaginations of many, catapulting a franchise that just released its fifth film 45 years later. He has a much bigger budget now and he uses it to bring viewers an action-packed epic that is equal to if not surpasses 2015’s widely acclaimed “Mad Max: Fury Road.” It is rare to see a director get the opportunity to mold this franchise from inception, and it’s an important reason why Miller has been successful in creating what are now two of the best sci-fi films over the past decade.

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is an outstanding visual spectacle and an adrenaline pumping frenzy of amazingly choreographed action that will have audiences practically able to smell the Guzzolene or taste the grimy grains of the swirling dirt. The cinematography is Oscar worthy with majestic, sprawling shots of this Wasteland, intense closeups of the visceral action sequences, in addition to continuous shots that provide a smooth fluidity to the presentation. Miller’s commitment to perfection is profound as evidenced by one 15-minute action sequence that took 78 days to shoot. However, the reason this film won’t be nominated for Best Visual Effects is there were certain moments where there was a noticeable overuse of CGI that diminished the realism of those moments.

That is a minor misstep easily overlooked with a story that sweeps the audience away in its presentation. His style is reminiscent of a Sam Peckinpah western complete with rich, exceedingly tough characters who don’t pull any punches. With a run time of nearly two and a half hours, Miller wisely presents the story in a linear, five-chapter format that keeps viewers invested over the one to two decades being covered. He also limits dialogue, living by his philosophy that dialogue bogs down a film, which keeps the pacing fast.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” had incredibly talented actors with Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron as an older Furiosa, and they certainly delivered memorable performances, so it is a tough act to follow. Although Anya Taylor-Joy is one capable actress. She may not have surpassed Theron’s performance, which is next to impossible, but she holds her own with an equally respectable showing in the title role. She doesn’t even make her first appearance until an hour into the film, but when she does, her powerfully confident demeanor commands the screen. This is exceedingly difficult to accomplish, considering she had very limited dialogue throughout the movie, but she successfully conveyed her emotions with her eyes, which enhanced the power of her silence.

An action film like this requires a well-played villain and Chris Hemsworth delivers. The renowned actor for playing “Thor” has long been trying to be in a “Mad Max” film, even auditioning for the role of Mad Max but losing out to Tom Hardy. Well, his patience and perseverance pay off, and he provides a career best performance. He is as charismatic as he is repugnant in this tyrannical warlord role, almost to the point of being unrecognizable. Unlike Anya, Chris had a heavy amount of dialogue, but his energetic delivery sometimes yields comedy, sometimes disgust, and other times quotable remarks that audiences will remember long after the film is over.

It took all month, but “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is that type of wildly fun summer blockbuster that scratches that itch to become the summer’s first must see movie. In fact, with a seemingly weak June ahead, this might be the only worthy entertainment option for a while. Go see it on the biggest screen you can, its dedication to quality is sure to satisfy.

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May 2024