Fifth installment of 'Mad Max' series serves as spin-off and prequel - Catholic Courier
Anya Taylor-Joy, Tom Burke and Chris Hemsworth star in a scene from the movie "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga." Anya Taylor-Joy, Tom Burke and Chris Hemsworth star in a scene from the movie "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga." (OSV News photo by Jasin Boland/Warner Bros.)

Fifth installment of ‘Mad Max’ series serves as spin-off and prequel

Among aficionados of dystopian cinema, Australian director and co-writer George Miller’s 1979 feature “Mad Max” is widely regarded as a classic. On a more practical level, the film made a record profit, provided Mel Gibson with a breakthrough role, and, by 1985, had acquired two sequels.

After an interval of decades, the franchise returned with 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the opening entry in a proposed second trilogy. Taking a step back within its own chronology, the series now continues with an origin story for one of the main characters in the last outing, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” (Warner Bros.).

Anya Taylor-Joy takes on the role of Furiosa, previously played by Charlize Theron. Before she does so, however, we’re given an extended look at Furiosa’s tumultuous childhood, during which she’s portrayed by Alyla Browne.

Kidnapped by marauding bikers, young Furiosa is torn away from her family’s relatively tranquil life in an abundant oasis and ends up in the clutches of a ruthless, off-the-wall warlord aptly named Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Although he protects his captive in certain ways, she’s fully exposed to his brutalizing methods of gaining and maintaining power.

Thus hardened, and armed with formidable fighting skills, the grown-up Furiosa has a series of adventures among other, equally savage barbarian leaders battling for scarce natural and military resources in a vast desert wasteland. Eventually, though, she manages to ally herself with a more civilized figure, Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), and the two fall for each other.

Along with his script collaborator, Nico Lathouris, Miller continues to limn an imagined future full of dust and rust and mostly devoid of morals. It’s a desolate environment in which people eat sausages made with the blood of their enemies and Furiosa pursues a lifelong quest for revenge against Dementus.

‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ includes Biblical imagery

The movie includes some potentially interesting Biblical imagery — when first seen, for instance, the youthful Furiosa is reaching for an apple that presumably symbolizes her impending expulsion from the relative paradise in which she’s been living. Yet the repeated phrase “May the stars be with you” suggests that some form of astrology prevails in Miller’s world.

His presentation of this alternate reality is sweeping and cinematically accomplished in some ways, as when Furiosa and Jack communicate wordlessly with each other. But a two-and-a-half hour ride-along with Miller’s heroine makes for a grueling journey across a stark landscape.

The film contains mature themes, including cannibalism, pedophilia and vengeance, much gory violence, torture, gruesome sights, nonscriptural religious beliefs and occasional crass language. The OSV News classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Tags: Movie Review
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