Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Let’s get this out of the way immediately: Furiosa is not Mad Max: Fury Road. How could it be? That 2015 Best Picture nominee was an absolute game-changer in the action genre. Films like that don’t come along very often, and they certainly can’t be intentionally duplicated. Franchise mastermind George Miller seems to know that, and so he does what he’s done all along – tell a kick-ass story set in the world he created back in 1979.

The first section provides background on young Furiosa (Alyla Browne). Her mother is killed by wannabe conqueror Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Years later, Dementus has a plan to take over the wasteland, which entails wrestling control of Gastown, the Bullet Farm, and the Citadel from dictator Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme). The now-grown Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) gets stuck in the middle of their war. She wants revenge against her mother’s slayer and this creates a perfect opportunity. Her secondary goal is trying to get back to the “place of abundance” where she grew up in order to plant a special seed she’s been entrusted with.

Miller has always provided the Mad Max series with a hint of weirdo humor. That’s the case with Furiosa, too. Hemsworth is excellent as Dementus, a guy whose head is so far up his own backside that he has no idea his “evil” comes off as buffoonery. Of course, being a buffoon can make someone dangerous in a whole other way. The actor captures that quality nicely. Other amusement comes from Immortan Joe’s sons, hilariously named Scrotus and Erectus. Touches like these help the movie feel radically different from the self-serious action fare we frequently get.

The chief selling point, obviously, is the vehicular mayhem. Furiosa does not disappoint on this count. The desert-set chases are breathtaking in their scope. Miller brings back the tricked-out war rigs and cars, then adds new elements, such as Dementus’ chariot, which is powered by motorcycles instead of horses. Best of all is a long sequence where a war rig is attacked from above by warriors riding parasails and paramotors. It’s so exciting that I felt a bit giddy watching the chaos unfold. Many of the stunts were done practically; CGI was understandably needed for the most dangerous bits. By and large, it all looks real. Only once or twice can you tell that CGI was used.

If Anya Taylor-Joy had any nervousness about stepping into a role made famous by Charlize Theron, she doesn’t show it. Her Furiosa is credibly tough. The actress doesn’t have a ton of dialogue in the film, yet she never fails to make an impression by giving the character an undeniable forcefulness. For viewers, watching another performer take over a role can be jarring. In this case, the transition is as seamless as can be.

The stunning cinematography that’s always been a major part of the franchise is present again. From a purely visual perspective, you can enjoy the manic action and the intricate way it’s photographed. George Miller has always been working on his own level. His vision for the Mad Max movies is as distinct as it is original. Even in his late ‘70s, he still has the temerity to pull off action extravaganzas that would make directors half his age green with envy. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is more than a thrill ride. It’s a thrill ride while you’re already on a thrill ride.


out of four

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is rated R for sequences of strong violence, and grisy images. The running time is 2 hours and 28 minutes.

Universal

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan