Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Review - Spectacular And Sporadically Exhilarating

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga premiered Out of Competition on Wednesday evening at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. It is scheduled for release in India later this month

May 17, 2024 - 11:45
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Review - Spectacular And Sporadically Exhilarating

Spectacular and only sporadically exhilarating, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is, to be sure, not without its moments. But the moments that the film rustles up come and go without always being convincing in the way that they are staged or in the manner that they are placed within, and in relation to, the 'flow' of the saga.

The world-building in the film plays second fiddle to, if it is not entirely subsumed by, the myth of the universe that George Miller created over the course of four films spread over 45 years.

It takes nearly two and a half hours to tell the origin story of Imperator Furiosa - Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is longer than any of the other films that make up the popular post-apocalyptic war drama franchise - but that is not necessarily the only aspect of the enterprise that weighs it down. There is also the question of a few of characters not being accorded the play they deserved.

The action in Furiosa straddles a decade and a half. In Fury Road the action panned out over just three days. It is, therefore, understandable at a very basic level why the rhythm of this film is not as consistent as expected.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is fragmentary in its pacing. It alternates between the insanely whippy and the drably predictable as it goes from being dazzlingly mounted to being just a show of one set-piece after another that do not form a cohesive whole. It traverses the whole spectrum, leaving some holes that prove impossible to plug - or shrug off.

Given that Fury Road cast its spell nearly a decade ago, this follow-up was highly anticipated. But notwithstanding its action sequences - the most impactful one plays out in the middle of the film over 15-odd minutes - the film does not fully live up to the hype.

Working with his co-screenwriter Nico Lathouris, Miller pulls no punches in handing out to Furiosa what she deserves - a story that spans from the time that she is an innocent and gutsy village girl to the point in her life when she has channeled her anger and thirst for revenge and is in a position to give the warring men around her a run for their money.

Anya Taylor-Joy is so fantastically energetic yet controlled as the titular heroine that even when images of Charlize Theron from Fury Road flash across our minds she does come off as somebody who might wilt under the pressure of a hard act to follow. In fact, she does not follow. She creates her own path.

Chris Hemsworth embodies Warlord Dementus, a bearded and long- maned leader of a marauding horde of bikers who shows a softer side through the Teddy bear that he carries in order to remember the daughter he lost, with customary panache.

Dementus fights a running war with Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme, replacing the departed Hugh Keays-Byrne), leader of the Citadel, the powerful settlement of fighters that were in pursuit of Furiosa in Fury Road. In addition to Gastown, the second fortress of Wasteland, and the Bullet Farm, the third fortress, the world that Dementus and Immortan Joe inhabit are perfect specimens of places that are paying for sins of men past and present, They struggle for water and fuel as they battle for control of the scarce resources that are still available.

The paucity of necessities in the Wasteland is what makes Furiosa's village, the Green Place of Many Mothers, an oasis of abundance, a sought-after location whose map only the kidnapped girl who has grown into a full-blown warrior possesses.

She must fight to protect the secret until she is ready to wreak vengeance for the grisly killing of her machete-wielding mother who did everything in her power to save Furiosa.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is low on emotional power because the protagonist's struggle to find her way back home forces her into too many detours. By the time she and Dementus face off and the girl demands her childhood and her mother back, the film has lost its ability to catch us by surprise.

The audience keeps waiting for the confrontation. It comes way too late in the narrative arc. The words Furiosa and Dementus exchange do serve the purpose of rounding off the tale, but the film has several moments when the lines spoken are drowned out by the music or the sound effects.

One other disappointment in the film is the short shrift given to Tom Burke. The actor plays Praetorian Jack, who forms a partnership with Furiosa but he's gone as suddenly as he appears, leaving behind no real traces of the hint of romance that develops between the two characters.

Like the bikes, the war rig and the other moving contraptions that the film uses, many of its warriors are flashes that are only momentary. While some of them make an impression is their respective stray little pockets, they do aren't linked with each other in completely meaningful ways.

Hardcore fans of Mad Max will find a great deal to like here, but if you are the sort of filmgoer who expects much more from George Miller, you will be left feeling shortchanged. This Mad Max saga is mad enough but it isn't driven by the sort of manic force that propelled Fury Road.

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