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Fury Road to Nowhere


Jasin Boland/Warner Brothers Pictures


Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)

Reviving the “Mad Max” franchise in 2015 after a three-decade gap turned out to be a very good idea for George Miller. So instead of another “Babe” or even “Happy Feet,” we’re getting a Furiosa origin story. Well, there’s apparently a sequel planned for “Mad Max: Fury Road” as well, but that’s a whole other conversation for another time.

We have Anya Taylor-Joy, one of Hollywood’s current “It” anorexic blondes despite never having carried a hit of her own, stepping into the role made famous by Charlize Theron. Ms. Taylor-Joy’s career so far has been so unremarkable that you wonder if casting directors have mistaken her for Margot Robbie or Emma Stone. But despite receiving top billing, Ms. Taylor-Joy doesn’t even appear on the screen for the first two-fifths of the film.

During the first hour, we have Alyla Browne as bébé Furiosa, who inexplicably decides to take it upon herself to disable the motorbikes belonging to a biker horde she happens upon while out picking fruits. Naturally, they abduct her. She sends out distress calls through a whistle, summoning her mother, Mary Jabasa (Charlee Fraser), to come to the rescue. They put up a good fight, but they are both apprehended thanks to Furiosa’s disobedience.

Led by the ruthless and reckless Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), who is unfazed even by having his nipple rings yanked off, the biker horde roams across the Wasteland to find the Citadel. Upon arrival, he immediately demands to speak to the leader, Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), threatens to take over and makes false promises of abundance to anyone who’ll join his side.

At first Dementus doesn’t succeed, so he tries, tries, tries, tries and tries again. This mostly involves his underlings coming from all directions – front, back, top, down and sideways – at the souped-up monster truck driven by Immortan Joe’s minion, Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke, the cleft lipped toxic boyfriend from “The Souvenir”). There is an abundance of fight scenes and stunt work performed on moving vehicles, to the point that it becomes repetitive and exhausting.

What about Furiosa, though? Where does she fit into all this? Dementus is apparently keen on grooming her to be his heir, but she defects to Immortan Joe at the first chance, only to find his plan for her in his baby mill is infinitely worse. So Furiosa shaves her head and passes herself off as a man for a while, surely to the horror of karens everywhere who want to ban drag queen story hour at local libraries. She’s just biding her time for an opportunity to exact revenge.

Perhaps Ms. Taylor-Joy does have talent, but this is most certainly not the vehicle. There is literally zero development involved with her character. Zilch. Nada. She shares some tender moments with Praetorian Jack, but otherwise she has no other motive in life but to get back at Dementus, who incidentally has more of a character arc, but not by much.

The deafening sound effects make most dialogue unintelligible, to the point that the French subtitles during the screenings at Cannes unexpectedly come in handy in terms of helping make sense of this mess of a film.

The reality, though, is there is no point to “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.” Despite the excellent world-building, it’s essentially a series of action sequences ham-handedly strung together by a barely-there plot. You don’t actually miss much even if you don’t make out what the characters are saying or what their names even are. There’s absolutely nothing there.


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