Monday, June 3, 2024

Joie de vivre

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024) - Miller Screen Shot 2024-06-03 at 8.14.56 AM George Miller proved himself to be a unique action filmmaker when he revived his Mad Max franchise in 2015 with Mad Max: Fury Road with Tom Hardy as the titular anti-hero in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that was Australia. The kinetic energy, physicality, the mindboggling stunt work, rigging and colors with hardly any dialog looked and felt different than any Hollywood run-of-the-mill actioners. But there were two heroes that emerged from the film. One Mad Max, the former cop with his family murdered, wandering after the apocalypse to survive the dog-eat-dog world whose good heartedness has been hidden in grunts and cynicism. With its franchise history, we knew his background a little. We know what made him who he is. But Furiosa, the tanker driver, embodied by Charlize Theron, emerged from nowhere and stole the show. So, the next logical step for Miller to do is continue the saga with her in mind. And he does, gloriously.

Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) is first seen being kidnapped by bandits from the Green Place- the place of abundance, governed by many mothers (who were shown as bike riding grannies in the previous film) who had sworn to keep the place secret from the outside world. Furiosa is taken to Demetus (Chris Hemsworth with a fake nose), a ruthless lord of a bandit gang. She is almost rescued by her mother, but Demetus recaptures them. Desiring to capture Immortan Joe's citadel which has water, food, and ammo, he exchanges Furiosa to become in charge of the Gas Town.

Furiosa, avoiding becoming a kept cycling baby machine for Immortan Joe, proves herself useful with machinery while posing herself as a boy, while scheming to break out of the citadel and kill Demetus. She befriends with Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), the War Machine- a decked out tanker driver who becomes her mentor.

Just as the previous film, the set pieces featuring shiny silver tube War Machine on the road to and back from Gas Town is a movie-going experience to be had. The chase from both the ground and the sky, it's a spectacular display in acrobatics and vehicular mayhem.

Demetus, however brutal and ruthless he is, turns out to be a shitty leader. He cares very little about how to run his crew. He thrives in chaos. Immortan Joe is a cult leader, with those countless War Boys sacrificing himself for him for the promise of eternal life. Demetus's speech at the end to Furiosa reveals quite a lot, that he and she are 'already dead.' Come to think of it, Max and Demetus are just the flip side of the coin. He carries a teddy bear chained on his front, as a reminder for his wife and child who died, just like Max's. Even though they are from similar origins, Max bowed to avoid the human race and lead a solitary scavenger existence, Demetus became an all-out tyrant, relishing in chaos with joie de vivre attitude. It's the fleeting joys of destruction and cruelty he is after. And why not? Furiosa doesn't know it yet, but as we witnessed in the previous film, the Green Zone is gone. We know that she has to deal with the political bullshit of controlling and governing over marauding citizens of citadel. Who wants to deal with that?

But I hope Miller keeps making these. It's loads of fun.