(Limited Spoilers Ahead) James Franco has been quite busy over the past few years. He’s starred in big Hollywood productions (Why Him?), small passion projects (The Disaster Artist), critically acclaimed television (The Deuce), independent movies you’ll likely never see (As I Lay Dying, Child of God, The Sound and the Fury), and soon even another comic book movie (Multiple Man). More recently Franco has jumped into the world of B(ish)-movies and the post-apocalyptic American landscape with Future World.
Future World‘s story and plot is simple. Prince (Jeffrey Wahlberg), with two “loyal subjects,” leaves possibly the only oasis to be found in an apocalyptic world to save his sick mother, Queen (Lucy Liu, Charlie’s Angels). Along the way Prince is befriended by a really hot, sexy, killer android named Ash (Suki Waterhouse, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) who also happens to have killed his companions. The two are hounded by Franco’s Warlord who’s hellbent on getting Ash back before Prince can finish his mission to find Queen’s cure.
Franco may be wandering into B-movie territory, but only slightly. Future World‘s budget may have been half of, a somewhat generous guess, than some of his Hollywood movies. However, Future World isn’t your average B-movie. Franco and his partners Jay Davis, Bruce Thierry Cheung, and Jeremy Cheung have created a world where anyone can be royalty and an android searching for her soul can find love. It’s a slick mix of high adrenaline action movie and a movie about self-discovery.
Franco’s performance as the crazed Warlord is a perfect fit for the movie’s B-movie feel. However, it’s Milla Jovovich as Drug Lord, the only person who can give Prince the cure for his mother, who steals the second half of the movie. We’ve seen her play the action hero jumping and spinning in the air with guns blazing more than once in her career so it’s nice to see her acting against type. Suki Waterhouse plays Ash almost as a new born child. Her performance isn’t stiff like someone acting like a robot, but someone who is expernicing everything for the first time. Method Man, Snoop Dogg as Love Lord, and even Rumor Willis make appearances in the movie.
Calling Future World a Mad Max knock-off, as some have, is just plain lazy. Yes, Future World is set in an post-apocalyptic setting, motorcycles race across barren landscapes, and crazy raiders in a crazy get ups harass and kill people. But Future World owes just as much to Mad Max as it does to other post apocalyptic movies like A Boy and His Dog, Cherry 2000, Cyborg, and 2017’s The Bad Batch, also staring Suki Waterhouse. It’s all those movies wrapped up in a nice little package.
Future World may not win over anyone who’s not already a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre (Young Adult novel readers aside). The movie may not convince anyone who is not already a fan that Franco is actually one of the best actors of his generation. If we can accept a director like Quentin Tarantino jumping from genre to genre and if we can accept a director taking credit for creating those genres (Tarantino’s production company is even named after a classic Jean-Luc Godard movie of the same name) why can’t we accept Franco has a director and actor pushing movie bounds? At the very least, watch Future World for the crazy, over-the-top action in a B-movie world.