More Cherry 2000 than Mad Max
Future World (2018): 6 out of 10: In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a young man (Jeffrey Wahlberg) seeks a cure for his mother (Lucy Liu) and leaves his protected oasis to travel into the desert which is being terrorized by a gang leader (James Franco) and his sex robot (Suki Waterhouse).
The Good: There is some bad acting in this movie (detailed below) but the reason to watch this is two words. Milla Jovovich. She steals the entire film and is a joy to watch. Alas, she doesn’t show up for the first two-thirds of the film. Her character is so refreshing after all the drudgery that precedes her. She seems to realize exactly what kind of film this is and is chewing scenery in full William Shatner mode.
Also props to Snoop Dogg of all people. Yes, he is playing a pimp, which is a bit on the nose. But like Milla above, he takes full advantage of the limited screen time given.
The Bad: Who gives the worst performance? Good lord, what competition. Lucy Lui plays a lady basically in a coma, so she gets a pass even though she seems awful. In a regular film Suki Waterhouse, as the emotionless sex robot would take first prize, but in her defense, they write her character all over the place and the movie doesn’t follow its own in-universe rules. So I will give her a pass. James Franco plays a murdering psychotic rapist. So he is just playing himself with slightly worse teeth and a funny hat. Pass.
No, the winner and grand champion is, unfortunately, our lead character. The dull as dishwater Jeffrey Wahlberg who sucks the energy out of every scene he is in. And he is in all of them. Not so much as a fish out of water straight guy, but more a charisma black hole. Jeffery goes from scene to scene looking like a particularly dimwitted twelve-year-old.
Why would Franco hire him? Oh, he is Mark Wahlberg’s nephew. There is so little talent in the Wahlberg family that diluting it is ill-advised.
The Ugly: Nobody drinks water. I drink a liter of water mowing the lawn (Florida) and yet here is a character who hasn’t had a drink in days dragging a four hundred pound weight in an endless desert while sweating profusely.
In fact, the movie (as noted above) has genuine problems with its in-universe rules. Suki Waterhouse’s sex robot is supposed to be controlled by a very silly looking a remote control. Sometimes it works, sometimes she has free will, and sometimes she is just wandering around like a rogue Roomba.
In Conclusion: Future World is more Cherry 2000 than Mad Max. There is also a healthy amount of sixties let’s get some friends together, do a lot of drugs, and film in the desert about this Future World. In addition, Franco channels the eighties Full Moon post-apocalyptic desert movies with his Salton Sea locations and simple hero’s journey across the wasteland.
Compared to sixties desert drug movies and Full Moon films, this effort is actually a little above average. Milla saves the movie, but it takes too long to get to her and before you know it, we are back to Wahlberg sucking the fun out of the film again.