A film review by Cliff Homewood

Wasn’t Fury Road excellent?  Are you hoping Furiosa is as good?  I was. Furiosa is the character’s backstory, worked out before making Fury Road. Like Mad Max is the backstory for Mad Max 2. We seem to be following the Star Trek rule that even number films are the good ones, Fury Road being Mad Max 4. Furiosa is like The Phantom Menace to the Star Wars trilogy.  It has some great moments, is about trade between various outposts and filmed amongst epic desert scenery. It isn’t as original as The Phantom Menace though, most of it you’ve seen before and better in Fury RoadFury Road was a hi-octane intense modern action classic.  Furiosa feels meandering and bitty. It shows Furiosa growing up and feels disjointed as it jumps through her lifespan. The connective thread of her life didn’t feel strong enough but more a connection to thread set pieces together. Chris Hemsworth and prosthetic nose turns up as a not too memorable bad guy. His teddy bear was a nice touch. On set they would lay into each other but as soon as they heard cut Chris Hemsworth would be like, ‘Are you OK, I hope I didn’t hit you too hard, and what are you up to on the weekend?’ Anya Taylor-Joy states, ‘It’s like we’re trying to take care of each other while we were also trying to mutilate each other.’

Anya Taylor-Joy as the younger Furiosa is a talent to watch, she debuted as The Witch, went onto make The Queen’s Gambit and George Miller had her recommended by Edgar Wright as she’d just made Last Night in Soho saying she could do anything, very professional. Charlize Theron, disappointed she’s not playing Furiosa again, still approved of Anya Taylor-Joy in the role calling her, ‘one of the greatest f*cking actresses.’ Tom Burke (Comoran Strike) as Praetorian Jack has the presence of a movie star, stealing the show with a minor role, along with Anya Taylor-Joy bringing to life characters that aren’t very deeply scripted. Anya Taylor-Joy only has around 30 lines of dialogue and, said George, ‘had a very, very strict idea of what Furiosa’s war face looked like, and that only allowed me my eyes for a large portion of the movie. It was very much “mouth closed, no emotion, speak with your eyes.” That’s it, that’s all you have.’  Writer/Director George Miller believes dialogue slows a film down. Well done George, you’ve managed to slow it down without dialogue. Now 78, George Miller has a distinguished career, as well as the Mad Max films, he’s bought us Babe and Happy Feet.  If Furiosa is a success, he’s already scripted The Wasteland, the story of Mad Max in the year before Fury Road, with co-writer Nico Lathouris.

The film lacks cohesion, sometimes being somewhat confusing why it’s not following up on a previous thread. At one-point Furiosa pretends to be a boy and shaves off her hair.  Later her helmet’s whisked off revealing her long locks giving the game away.  Why does she suddenly have long hair when trying to pass as male? The answer may lie in the fact that Anya Taylor-Joy’s modelling contract forbade her from shaving her head, so the younger actress could, but she could not. But that doesn’t excuse the movie’s lack of continuity. Perhaps she had got tardy, it just needed one scene to explain. This is not the only confusing point in the film.

The film could be called a drag race as it drags and then they race. There’re some very exciting set pieces but not enough new looking vehicles. I like seeing what outlandish thing they come up with next, although Gastown looked cool. Engine noises are used to triumphant effect in the soundtrack, sometimes in place of music. The best bits of the film seem to be the flashbacks/forwards to Fury Road with their epic speaker rigs. It’s the longest Mad Max film to date and feels it, but it received a standing ovation at Cannes, so what do I know?