Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades


In 1979, Australian filmmaker George Miller directed a low-budget action film set in a dystopian future. It told the story of “Mad” Max Rockatansky, a police officer turned vigilante in an Australian wasteland following a societal collapse. Barbaric warriors ride the desert in souped-up dune buggies. Motorcycle gangs run riot, vandalizing property, stealing fuel, and terrorizing the beleaguered populace. When Max’s wife and child are killed by the gang, he goes rogue, donning his police uniform and taking the black Pursuit Special without authorization to pursue the gang members. The bad guys don’t have a chance.

A then-little-known actor named Mel Gibson starred as Mad Max.

That was the beginning of a popular franchise – the sequels being “The Road Warrior” (1981), “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (1985), and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015).

Miller directed or co-directed all four films.

Mel Gibson (“Lethal Weapon”) portrayed the title character the first three films, while Tom Hardy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) took over the role in the fourth.

Charlize Theron (“Monster”) stood out in “Mad Max: Fury Road” as Imperator Furiosa, a fearsome one-armed lieutenant in Immortan Joe’s army, a warrior who rebels to help Max rescue the Five Wives, Joe’s sex slave breeders.

George Miller and co-writer Brendan McCarthy discovered during the writing process for “Mad Max: Fury Road” that they had enough story material for two additional scripts, so they decided to do a spin-off film centered around Furiosa.

Being a prequel, they needed a younger actress for the storyline, so Charlize Theron’s character was recast with Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”) and Alyla Browne (“Sting”) as Furiosa.

Chris Hemsworth (Marvel’s “Thor”) excels as the Biker Warlord Dementus. Lachy Hulme (“Killer Elite”) pops up as Immortan Joe. And Jacob Tomuri (TV’s “The Tribe”) does a cameo as Mad Max.

In this telling, a young Furiosa is abducted from her homeland, the Green Place of Many Mothers, by gang members of Dementus. In a move to take over Gastown, Dementus swaps her to Immortan Joe to be a breeder.

Disguising herself as a boy, Furiosa plans her escape. However, she’s captured by Dementus after a hard chase where her arm is nearly severed. She frees herself by ripping off her grisly arm and crawling away.

When the 40 Day Wasteland War breaks out, Furiosa fashions herself a robotic arm out of used machinery, cuts off her long hair, and takes a War Boy’s rig to chase down Dementus and kill him.

In the end, we see an older Furiosa picking up the story where “Mad Max: Fury Road” begins.

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is currently playing in theaters.

That first “Mad Max” cost a paltry US$300,000 to make, while “Furiosa” cost a total of US $233 million, the most ever spent for a film production in Australia.

Is “Furiosa” 700 times better than the original “Mad Max”? No, but you won’t regret the ride.

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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