Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Review - A Whole New Gear

  • First Released May 24, 2024
  • movie
Phil Owen on Google+

Director George Miller delivers another action masterpiece.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a singular film, and one that stands so well on its own that there's no need for another one just like it--it would inevitably feel like a hollow retread. Fortunately, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is hardly "just another one," swapping a story that played out nearly in real time for a sprawling epic that takes place over two decades. It's a brilliant change of pace that justifies this prequel's existence. Even with the change in structure, though, Furiosa is still relentless with incredible action sequences, and it's got a vibe that makes it very easy to sink into your seat as you let the madness wash over you.

As the title indicates, Furiosa is a prequel that tells the life story of Charlize Theron's Fury Road character, starting with her first encounter with a new villain called Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Dementus is basically Toecutter from the original Mad Max: an unhinged maniac leading a massive motorcycle gang around the wasteland, terrorizing everyone they come across--starting with child Furiosa and her mother in the opening sequence of the film.

Furiosa's long-term fight against Dementus is the frame of this story. Over the course of the film, Dementus rampages all over the wasteland, attacking Immortan Joe's Citadel from Fury Road as well as the Bullet Farm and Gastown--places mentioned in Fury Road but not shown--and he becomes a general nuisance to everyone for decades as he tries to fight everyone he comes across.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

While the movie does depict the rise and fall of Dementus, that part of the story is mostly a backdrop--Furiosa is just somebody who got caught up in this wasteland war, not the hero who's going to end it. Furiosa's a young woman trying not to get killed, and in the process she gets into a lot of wild and dramatic situations. But since Dementus is able to continue his war of terror, Furiosa is given a number of convenient opportunities to get revenge against the man who kidnapped and forced her into this nomadic wasteland life when she was a child.

If you were worried that director George Miller's skills as an action filmmaker had eroded any since Fury Road, or that the action would be too much like that of Fury Road, you can relax. Despite the ads attempting as hard as they can to make this prequel look exactly like Fury Road all over again, every sequence in this movie carves its own fresh path--and that even goes for when the movie depicts Furiosa's first chaotic journey down the Fury Road, when she stowed away onboard a big rig and ended up having to save it from Dementus's men. Even with this scene being, on the surface, very similar to stuff from the last film, the particulars are so different that Miller is able to keep it fresh.

Just as key as how the action looks, though, is how it feels. Miller and his editor/wife, Margaret Sixel, have cultivated a music-oriented vibe for Furiosa, similar to how Fury Road was built, but perhaps even more effective with a story that isn't quite as action-dense as that one was--it lends even the quiet scenes a feeling of kinesis. While the story is very different and differently structured than Fury Road was, that two-hour-music-video vibe remains.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

And both Alyla Browne's and Anya Taylor-Joy's dialogue-light performances as Furiosa--they each get about half the movie--feed into that perfectly. Like Theron before her, Taylor-Joy is an actor with a lot of presence who's great at communicating a lot of feelings without words--she was a great choice for Furiosa.

But it may be Chris Hemsworth who we remember this movie for--that's not to say he's better than Taylor-Joy in the film, but he's probably got more lines than every other character combined, and so he sticks in your head a little bit. But that's both a blessing and a little bit of a curse, because by the time he's delivering his lengthy and philosophical climactic soliloquy at the end, it feels like overkill.

But that's a minor quibble next to the immense quality of every other aspect of Furiosa, which is good enough that it just might be the pinnacle of this franchise. I will admit that I was among those who didn't really see the need for this movie to exist--but this epic prequel hits so hard that I'm begging the gods to let the 79-year-old Miller make a few more of these things. Pretty please?

Phil Owen on Google+
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The Good

  • George Miller once again delivered a vibey and breathtaking action movie
  • Anya Taylor-Joy replaces Charlize Theron perfectly in the title role
  • Always goes its own way instead of trying to replicate Fury Road

The Bad

  • Drags a bit at the climax

About the Author

Phil Owen is a freelance writer and critic. He attended a screening of Furiosa, provided by Warner Bros. Discovery.