23rd May2024

‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ Review

by Jasmine Valentine

Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Lachy Hulme, Nathan Jones, Alyla Browne | Written by Nico Lathouris, George Miller | Directed by George Miller

Set before the events of Mad Max: Fury Road, a young Furiosa (Alyla Browne) is stolen from her homeland of The Green Place by a group of post-apocalyptic bikers who follow a maverick leader called Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Handing her over to the citadel years later, Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) works her way up the ranks to get revenge on the man who took her mother’s life.

If you were a frequent moviegoer in 2015, chances are you had a front-row year for the objective masterpiece of that year — Mad Max: Fury Road. In fact, the film has been so well received that demand for more in the nine years since has been at a consistent high, finally manifesting itself in the form of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. However, fans (and George Miller) might have done themselves a disservice by trying to follow up on legitimate perfection.

The first thing to note is that Furiosa is a character who best functions as a brooding counterpart with a hidden and unexplained past. Miller clearly doesn’t know how to handle his female roles, taking Taylor-Joy’s version through the methodical steps of a prequel as if he is ticking off a cinematic to-do list. If a leading lady isn’t the obvious star of a film named after her, something has gone horribly wrong. In Furiosa’s place, Dementus shines like the natural-born villain that Hemsworth clearly is.

At the same time, not only does Dementus and his new cronies not have enough screentime to properly shine, but Fury Road returnees also don’t get their dues paid to them. Miller is intent on telling a classic story of a scorned woman getting revenge, which serves as a detriment to the 40-odd years he’s spent building a truly archaic world. This isn’t to say that the story we’re left with is bad, far from it. Furiosa is still an incredibly entertaining gear in the Mad Max rig, and Taylor-Joy does her best to silently command that ship.

Where Miller never fails to provide is his scintillating visuals and timing, effortlessly carrying on from Fury Road. Each sequence has clearly had a lot of time and thought plundered into them, and while they’re not as in your face as their predecessor, the beauty of precision can be found in Furiosa’s calm and collected actions. In this respect, fans are going to be far from disappointed — the heat-pounding stylings of Miller’s eye in the Australian wastelands are as present as they’ve ever been. What takes this to the next level are the frequent and subtle nods to Mad Max-ing gone by, such as a Thunderdome-style microphone Dementus uses to assert his fledgling dominance.

If fans can accept that the prequel will never hit the euphoric highs of Fury Road, they’ll have a good enough time with Furiosa. It’s a left-field choice to paint another Mad Max chapter as an out-and-out fable, but it has its moments of glory — even if they aren’t long enough for proper satisfaction.

*** 3/5

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is in cinemas from Friday, May 24th.

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