“Furioza” is a Polish gritty crime thriller that has all the necessary ingredients that make a movie binge-worthy. It can even make it to your all-time watch list if you like raw and visceral thrillers. And in the middle of this common-yet-effectively-executed plot lie four people, Dawid (Mateusz Banasiuk), Dzika (Weronika Ksiazkiewicz), Kaszub (Wojciech Zielinski) and Golden (Mateusz Damiecki).
Perhaps the main character of the film, Dawid, is made an offer by his ex-girlfriend, who is now a cop. He will have to infiltrate his brother Kaszub’s gang and inform the cops about their drug dealings. If he doesn’t, Kaszub will receive life imprisonment. Dawid is the most balanced character that is flawed in a real way. He left his brother Kaszub’s side after enduring a lot of hatred and gang violence and became a doctor. However, his love for his brother remained the same. The conflict that is there inside Dawid is love that has three layers:
- He doesn’t want to go against his brother.
- Only if he goes against his brother will he be able to save him from imprisonment.
- The cop who is involved in this dangerous task is his ex-girlfriend, for whom he still cares.
It is these three arcs of Dawid’s character that help take the plot forward. Time and again, he is tested on all three layers. On one hand, he is being pulled towards Dzika all over again. On the other hand, his interactions with his brother, which are complemented by his past with the Furioza gang, only absorb him deeper. He saves a gang member from dying, helps solve a heated argument between the gang and the owner of a club, and also helps pin down a rival gang member on a train, stealing their flag only to prove his allegiance to the Furioza gang. While some may think that this move was strategic on his part and had to be made in order to gain the trust of the gang so that he could gain access to all the dealings made under the table, Dawid’s behavior makes it clear that somewhere deep inside, he does want back in. He likes being part of the brotherhood. What proves his concern for Kaszub is his revelation to his brother that he is working with the police. It is clear that the only reason he is aiding the cops is that he wants to bring his brother out of the kind of life he is leading. So, as much as Dawid likes being with his brother, he wants his brother to leave what he is doing.
There is another side to Dawid as well. We see an event from the past where Dawid stood still while Golden and Daro (Dzika’s brother) were brutally beaten by rival gang members, with Daro ultimately being stabbed to death. This is the very incident that led Dawid to leave his gang and study medicine. It seems that this step would be his way of making up for Daro’s death. However, he didn’t expect that his past would creep upon him again.
Dawid ultimately loses his brother, Kaszub. That this tragedy would never leave him is evident towards the end of the film when he listens to his brother’s voice message on the night he was killed. Everything, however, seems to have gotten back to normal when we see Dawid teaching his brother Kaszub’s daughter how to pilot the ship that Kaszub gifted him. Kaszub’s wife and Dzika are on it. But ultimately, even Dawid is stabbed by the same guy whom he pinned down on the train. This seems to be the film’s way of telling us how the wages of sin is death, no matter the cause. He was a doctor. He loved his brother. He saved many lives. He wanted his brother to have a better life. But all this wasn’t enough against all the misdeeds he had done as a part of the gang. We do not see Dawid’s death, though. We only see him sitting by the sea, fatally wounded. Perhaps there is still hope that he will survive. But the question is, does Dawid want to live anymore?
What makes the film so attractive is that the main conflict of the film does not involve the leader of the Furioza gang, i.e., Kaszub. It is between Dawid and Kaszub’s right-hand man, Golden. Golden is the one with ambitions. His experience years ago that led to the death of his friend Daro made him choose his present way of life. He lives and breathes Furioza. However, his flaw is that he hungers for power and takes pride in it. He doesn’t care about the lives of others at all, and all that matters to him is his brotherhood. He enjoys the money he makes from all the drug dealing, and this is what leads him to kill his boss, Kaszub, after he tells Golden that they will be quitting the drug business. He cracks a deal with the enemy gang leader, Antman, to bring in more money, something that is totally against the morals of his Furioza brothers. In fact, it is this very step that leads to the destruction of the Furioza gang, the very gang that gave him his life.
But what the film also shows us is the vulnerable side of Golden. He had gone completely insane after killing Kaszub. Perhaps he doesn’t know what to do with all the money he is making, and without Kaszub to guide him, he is completely lost.
As we mentioned earlier, the conflict is between Dawid and Kaszub. And it resolves with them too. The Furioza gang watches as both of them fight each other hand to hand, with Dawid ultimately pinning Golden to the ground. Golden’s pride finally takes a hit, and that’s when the Furioza gang pulls an angry Dawid away and stabs Golden to death, just as he had done to Kaszub. We can assume that the gang’s time in jail will be short as the killing will be considered a collective crime. But if Dawid indeed dies, then the future of the Furioza gang is uncertain and bleak.
Kaszub might be the leader of the Furioza gang, but he had morals. When he finds out that his gang might get compromised due to drug dealing, he calls it off. His gang is what matters to him more than anything. However, he is also inclined towards his brother. So much so that even after he finds out that Dawid is working for the cops, he doesn’t lose his cool. He rather apologizes later on for his behavior and acknowledges his brother’s good intention to bring him out. However, Kaszub knows that he has “stepped in so far, that should I wade no more,/Returning was as tedious as going o’er.” (Macbeth, Shakespeare). Sure enough, his own right-hand man, Golden, turns against him and kills him.
By means of the cliché love potion, Dzika’s character is used to catalyze Dawid’s character toward the film’s motive. Other than this, Dzika’s only other job was to release the CCTV footage of Kaszub’s murder for the Furioza gang to see. But that could have been done by anyone who wanted to put an end to the Furioza gang by sparking hatred among its members.
All that we know about Dzika is that her brother Daro was a member of the Furioza gang and that she broke up with Dawid after Daro’s death. Even her sudden concern and love for Dawid appear out of nowhere and seem forced. As it is, Dawid needed someone to get back to after losing his brother. And that is exactly what happened. If Dawid is dead, we can consider the possibility that she will hold herself responsible because she was the one who pulled Dawid into this. And she probably knew that Dawid wouldn’t say no to her. Did she then use Dawid’s love for her motives? Is her apology to Dawid an excuse because she knew that Dawid couldn’t back out anymore? We can judge ourselves for asking these questions, but it doesn’t make them invalid.
Overall, the film showcases a variety of characters, each of whom contributes to the story in a distinct manner. All of them are flesh-and-blood characters, and the film is able to connect them all seamlessly, settling their scores by the end. While Kaszub and Golden are dead, we are given the impression that Dawid is about to die too. And this means that Dzika will be left alone. Among all these, Dawid’s death is what strikes us the most, because he was the only one who tried to do the best with what he had. Yet the film doesn’t provide the catharsis that we hoped for. It rather leaves us with a tragic open-ending where we are almost bound to think that Dawid will die. In this way, “Furioza” leaves us stupefied, along with Dawid, as we wait for death to arrive.