Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

2024, R, 148 min. Directed by George Miller. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Alyla Browne, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Lachy Hulme, Nathan Jones, Josh Helman, John Howard, Angus Sampson, Charlee Fraser.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., May 24, 2024

George Miller is a master visualist. Of that, there is no doubt, so let’s get that out of the way before discussing Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. Because, while few filmmakers can put together a memorable action sequence like Miller, he may want to commit a little bit of that audacious filmmaking skill into storytelling that matches his visuals.

Crafting a prequel to his 2015 reboot-in-denial Mad Max: Fury Road comes down to answering two questions: How did Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron in the original) become the lieutenant to monstrous dictator Immortan Joe, and how did she lose her arm and become a post-apocalyptic cyborg?

These questions are answered, eventually, after the young Furiosa is kidnapped from the utopia of the Green Place by Dementus, a charming but violent warlord played by Chris Hemsworth as some kind of wild spoof of the Mighty Thor – self-mythologizing, billowing cloak, and all. However, Dementus is the real vain, greedy, cruel boy, an incompetent analog to the last film’s great villain, Immortan Joe (Hulme donning the scrapheap life support suit in place of the late Hugh Keays-Byrne). His fascist Citadel sits in balance with the oil producing Gas Town and the Bullet Farm, which keeps the violence going with a seemingly endless supply of weapons and munitions, and Dementus threatens to upset that teetering order.

Across five chapters, from Browne as the young Furiosa and Taylor-Joy as her older self, she becomes the shaved-skulled spirit of violence first seen in the sequel. In her growth, Miller and cowriter Nico Lathouris do a fair job of writing around the unfortunate fact that she becomes the chief enforcer for a monster in Fury Road. Her choices all tie in to her search for a kind of justice, and if Miller connects anything back to the 1979 original it’s that there’s an air of merciless, gleeful cruelty to Dementus that’s been lacking since Toecutter and the gang sent Max mad. Her path is one of pain and regret, her fate as Immortan Joe’s blade just the destiny of someone who runs out of options. She at least gets a glimpse of redemption in the form of Pretorian Jack (the always-excellent Burke), who is basically Road Warrior-era Max if he’d decided to side with the Lord Humungus and lived to rue his choice.

If you’re just along for the spectacular ride, then Furiosa is Miller at his nitro-fueled, chrome-covered, overblown best. But if you’re trying to make any sense of this, you’ll find it increasingly stalled out. “So?” you may ask, “how does that affect a movie about mutant bikers in the Outback?” Because that’s exactly what made the original Mad Max trilogy feel special – that there was this slow progression from the dying days of the old world through the lowest, most hellish days of chaos, through the birth pangs of the new world. The insane costumes worn by the biker barbarians made sense because they were trash from the time before that then became totems. Now it seems that, aside from the three outposts we’re seen, there must be a whole city dedicated to costumes somewhere near Uluru. Everyone’s fireproof, machines work because they look cool, and as for the timeline, I think we all gave up on that with Fury Road.

Yet the biggest storytelling impediment is that Miller does not seem interested in his heroes and nominal protagonists. In Fury Road, the old road warrior Max Rockatansky became little more than a hood ornament as Miller was increasingly fixated with his new morally-compromised antihero. Now he sets up an entire film about Furiosa, and neither Taylor-Joy nor Browne has much to do except stare with frozen fury and wait for the next set piece. Instead, Miller has fallen in love with Hemsworth and his prosthetic proboscis, giving him endless rambling comedy asides as he strides through the wasteland like a super-buff Groucho Marx. Just as Fury Road was about the liberation of Furiosa, so Furiosa really charts the rise and fall of Dementus, while the title character is off on some side quests.

But Miller’s new version of Mad Max is all about those side quests, those spectacular crashes and battles. It’s about creative reuse of old vehicles transmogrified into combat chariots and then vaporized into spinning shards of metal. When that gleaming war rig rumbles through sky pirates, and war boys shriek as they head to Valhalla, it’s still a lovely day.

Showtimes

Mon., June 17

digital 11:05am, 2:35, 6:20, 9:00

Tue., June 18

digital 1:55, 2:40, 6:20, 9:35

Wed., June 19

digital 11:20am, 3:05, 6:40, 9:15

Mon., June 17

digital 11:50am, 2:20, 6:00, 9:30

Tue., June 18

digital 11:50am, 2:20, 6:00, 9:30

Wed., June 19

digital 11:50am, 2:20, 6:00, 9:30

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Mon., June 17

digital 11:50am, 3:25, 7:00, 9:30

Tue., June 18

digital 11:30am, 3:05, 6:40, 9:15

Wed., June 19

digital 11:30am, 3:05, 6:40, 9:15

Mon., June 17

digital 11:45am, 3:15, 6:45, 9:35

Tue., June 18

digital 11:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:30

Wed., June 19

digital 11:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:30

Alamo Drafthouse Village

2700 W. Anderson #701, 512/861-7030, www.drafthouse.com/austin/theater/village

Tuesday matinee Baby Day shows (first show of the day) are intended for parents and their children younger than 6. Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Mon., June 17

digital 11:40am, 2:25, 6:00, 9:45

Tue., June 18

digital 11:15am, 2:55, 6:30, 10:00

Wed., June 19

digital 11:40am, 2:25, 6:00, 9:45

AMC Dine-In Tech Ridge 10

12625 N. I-35, 512/640-1533, www.amctheatres.com

Mon., June 17

CC/DVS, digital 3:45, 7:00

Tue., June 18

CC/DVS, digital 3:45, 7:00

Wed., June 19

CC/DVS, digital 5:45, 8:30

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 Capital of Texas Hwy. S., 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Mon., June 17

CC/DVS, digital 12:45, 4:00, 7:15, 9:45

Tue., June 18

CC/DVS, digital 12:45, 4:00, 7:15, 10:00

Wed., June 19

CC/DVS, digital 12:30, 4:00, 7:15, 9:30

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Mon., June 17

digital 9:30am, 12:00, 3:25, 6:50, 10:15

Tue., June 18

digital 9:30am, 12:00, 3:25, 6:50, 10:15

Wed., June 19

digital 9:45am, 12:00, 3:25, 6:50, 10:20

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Mon., June 17

digital 11:50am, 6:50

Tue., June 18

digital 11:50am, 6:50

Wed., June 19

digital 11:50am, 9:50

Mon., June 17

digital 11:40am, 3:05, 6:35, 10:00

Tue., June 18

digital 11:05am, 2:40, 6:25, 10:00

Wed., June 19

digital 11:30am, 3:05, 6:35, 10:00

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Mon., June 17

digital 9:00

Tue., June 18

digital 9:00

Wed., June 19

digital 9:00

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., June 17

digital 9:50am, 1:15, 4:45, 8:10

Tue., June 18

digital 9:50am, 1:15, 4:45, 8:10

Wed., June 19

digital 9:40am, 1:05, 4:30, 8:00

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Mon., June 17

digital 9:50

Tue., June 18

digital 9:50

Wed., June 19

digital 9:50

Mon., June 17

digital 1:30, 6:40

Tue., June 18

digital 1:30, 6:40

Wed., June 19

digital 1:30

Thu., June 20

digital 1:30, 6:40

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Mon., June 17

digital 11:45am, 3:15, 6:35

Tue., June 18

digital 12:30, 3:50, 7:05

Wed., June 19

digital 11:45am, 3:15, 6:35

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Mon., June 17

digital 8:15

Tue., June 18

digital 8:15

Wed., June 19

digital 8:15

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Mon., June 17

digital 10:45am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:30

Tue., June 18

digital 10:45am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:30

Wed., June 19

digital 10:45am, 2:15, 6:00, 9:30

Thu., June 20

digital 10:45am, 2:15

iPic Theaters Austin

3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, 512/568-3400, www.ipic.com

Mon., June 17

4:00, 6:15, 10:00

Tue., June 18

4:00, 6:15, 10:00

Wed., June 19

4:00, 6:15, 10:00

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Mon., June 17

CC/DVS, digital 8:45

Tue., June 18

CC/DVS, digital 8:45

Wed., June 19

CC/DVS, digital 8:45

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., June 17

digital 1:10, 4:40, 7:50

Tue., June 18

digital 1:10, 4:40, 7:50

Wed., June 19

digital 1:10, 5:40, 7:50

Thu., June 20

digital 1:15, 5:45, 7:55

Mon., June 17

digital 3:30, 10:00

Tue., June 18

digital 3:30, 10:00

Wed., June 19

digital 3:30, 10:15

Mon., June 17

digital 8:45

Tue., June 18

digital 8:45

Wed., June 19

digital 8:45

Violet Crown Cinema

434 W. Second, 512/495-9600, www.violetcrowncinema.com

Four-hour parking validation in attached garage with ticket purchase. Reserved seating; bar and cafe on-site.

Mon., June 17

digital 6:45, 9:00

Tue., June 18

digital 9:40

Wed., June 19

digital 6:45, 9:00

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., June 17

digital 11:30am, 6:45

Tue., June 18

digital 2:30, 6:20

Wed., June 19

digital 2:30, 6:20

Thu., June 20

digital 12:00, 3:40

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, George Miller, Anya Taylor-Joy, Alyla Browne, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Lachy Hulme, Nathan Jones, Josh Helman, John Howard, Angus Sampson, Charlee Fraser

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