Review: Furiosa, the softer side of revenge

2015's breathless Fury Road felt like an arcade game, catapulting viewers from spring launcher into the rugged, dusty wasteland of war rig bumpers and war boy multipliers. It's fantastic, made entirely of orange dust, style and split-second cuts. Furiosa's more of a video game with extended cutscenes and beleagured achievements to unlock. You've encountered a character from the previous movie, +50pts! You've lost an arm, level up! The film carries all the hallmarks of a prequel designed for fanservice, but executes the trope very well. Furiosa's focus on plot isn't in itself all that riveting, but does serve as a worthy vessel for exploring the barren world we're locked into for two and a half hours.

The titular character makes an easy avatar for the audience. Anya Taylor-Joy's (and her junior, Alyla Browne's) doe eyes read easily sympathetic, but surround them with enough grease and revenge fodder and she'll be tough as any other Mad Max protagonist. Plus, she's silent for much of the film and acts like any wronged audience member would hope to should they find themselves in a bleak but colorful dystopia such as this one.

Compared to previous installments in George Miller's Mad Max series, Furiosa might well have been directed in lace gloves. There is a slightly, to put it broadly, softer touch to Furiosa that feels like Miller was trying to make the plot of this installment not merely Furiosa's origin story, but also her singular view of the wasteland. The pinball pacing of Fury Road makes the viewer feel as though they are in Max's troubled mind, and see the Wasteland as such, just as the walkthrough timing of Furiosa is made to make the viewer feel they are in Furiosa's determined one. Max and Furiosa are both avatars, but their characters serve as vessels for slightly different archetypes.

Genre-wise, though, Furiosa is through-and-through an action film. There are an unfathomable amount of batshit sequences of hot flaming pursuit, capture, escape, near-misses, relief, ambush, violent death, off-screen death, love, loss, dirt, filth, spray paint and grime that make this a good one to watch after the little ones and those prone to heart palpitations are deep into REM. There aren't as many Robert Rodriguez-style quick zooms and pans as there were in Fury Road, but there are as many of the extraordinary weapons, cars, props and costumes intrinsic to the franchise as there were in vintage George Miller, who used his extraordinary budget and team to go, ahem, pedal to the metal with action and production design.

Much of Miller's vision of post-apocalyptic Australia is Namibia, with it's world record dunes and blazing red sands. As extreme landscapes stand in as exaggerations of the real thing, so do the man-made elements in Furiosa. Naturally, an 18-wheeler run through the soul-crushing every-man/Furiosa-for-themselves apocalypse mill would come out the other end with every possible piece of constrcution equipment attached, but made deadly. That's a crane arm- THAT KILLS! And an oversize drill bit THAT KILLS WITH PREJUDICE! The same logic is applied to character design. A war-hungry military advisor looks part Winston Churchill, part Justinian II with a BDSM flair typical of a cenobite.

Furiosa is a masterpiece of action and design. There's absolutely no subtlety, which makes it an absolute delight.

Plus, I've always thought Furiosa a beautiful name for a girl.