Review: Furiosa

Remember when Fury Road ended and you were like, “yeah, that was a kickass action movie, but it really could have used two and a half hours of backstory on Charlize Theron’s character” ?

Me neither.

Okay, so this is a movie that nobody really wanted, but the good news is that it’s actually pretty good. I went into it with no expectations other than “There’d better be some incredibly kickass action sequences” and I was not disappointed. At all.

I am a strong advocate for 90-minute movies, but I have to say that this 150-minute movie didn’t feel bloated or overlong. Now, is it the nonstop thrill ride that pins you to your seat from start to finish like Fury Road was? No. But that’s an incredibly high bar to clear.

Okay, so a fun two and a half hours at the movies, especially on the big screen where you can really take in all the spectacular action. But whereas Fury Road succeeded at being exactly what it was trying to be, Furiosa doesn’t, for a couple of reasons.

The first is that it aims, on a couple of occasions, for poignancy it simply can’t deliver. I am about as soft a moviegoer as you can find—like, I cry at movies often—and none of the character-based stuff moved me even a little bit because while it was happening, nobody was shooting flamethrowers at big trucks or bombing guys on motorcycles with exploding javelins or parasailing off of motorcycles and—well, you get the idea.

It’s also hard for this movie to have any emotional weight because it keeps winking at us about how completely ridiculous it is. (was the guy with the nipple holes in his suit and the dangling gas mask codpiece in Fury Road? I certainly don’t remember him, but he might have been.) There is a character named “Scrotus” and another named “Smeg.” I guess this is George Miller telling us to just enjoy the ride and have fun, but, again, if you really want us to invest in a character, putting them in a scene with a guy named Scrotus is not the way to do it.

Some sort of love relationship develops between Furiosa and The Guy Who Looks Like Billy Ray Cyrus, but it has no heat at all and absolutely no emotional impact. Even the stuff of Furiosa as a kid fails to evoke much emotion—she’s such a badass, fearless ten-year-old that her capture and imprisonment (This happens in the first ten minutes. Sorry for the spoiler, I guess) never feels consequential. (Also we know she’s going to survive to be in Fury Road, so…)

Anya Taylor-Joy is given a pretty tough task here—not as tough as Karl Urban in Dredd, but pretty tough nonetheless. How do you carry a movie without speaking? (I mean, okay, she’s got maybe ten lines in the whole movie.) Urban had a visor over his eyes and so had to act from the nose down, so Taylor-Joy’s feat here isn’t as impressive as that, but she glowers wonderfully and generally succeeds at carrying a movie without speaking. Unfortunately when she does have to speak in a crucial part at the end, her delivery is weirdly wooden. I’ve seen her be good in enough roles to know that she’s better than this, so I assume it’s a (weird) directorial choice.

But let’s talk about Chris Hemsworth for a moment, shall we? His performance (in ridiculous prosthetic nose and teeth) is really a tour de force. He’s menacing, sure, but also hilarious as well as intermittently inept. Basically he’s a loudmouth whose ambition far exceeds his competence, and Hemsworth makes the whole thing work. And his big speech at the end actually does wind up feeling like it comes from a place of genuine emotion. He is a ton of fun to watch in this movie.

And the movie, as I said above, is a ton of fun to watch. And, surprisingly, it didn’t just evaporate from my mind the minute I walked out. The production design, the worldbuilding, and the stunts are so far beyond what most action movies bother with that it wound up taking root in my brain in a way I never expected.

Also—so much amazing action.