Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)

Written by:
George Wu
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Like Stanley Kubrick, writer and director George Miller has only made 13 feature films in his 46-year career, but Miller will always be most associated with his Mad Max franchise, which was started with his debut feature in 1979. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga marks the fifth entry in the series and is the only one in which franchise protagonist Max Rockatansky is not a primary focus. This is the best-looking Mad Max movie so far and seeing it on the big screen is a must. That Miller could direct such a logistically difficult project at age 78 is quite remarkable.

Furiosa is a prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road, and as others have noted, it makes Fury Road retroactively better in providing all the contextual details that movie lacked. Successfully pulling that off is no easy feat as the Star Wars prequels can attest. I even slightly prefer Furiosa to Fury Road, although I’ve always found Fury Road to be a bit overrated as this all-time action masterpiece. That’s what Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is. That’s the movie that set the stage for all the post-apocalyptic films that came after and is especially the template off of which Fury Road works.

Furiosa is the history of the titular heroine first introduced in Fury Road, there played by Charlize Theron. Here, Anya Taylor-Joy is a strong Furiosa, although she plays her almost entirely stoic and she has very few lines, so she gets much less range than Charlize Theron’s version. Giving Taylor-Joy a run for her money though is 14-year old Alyla Browne as a younger Furiosa, whose on-screen slow burn is astounding. Charlee Fraser is also a total badass as Furiosa’s mother.

Chris Hemsworth is impressive as the lead villain, Dementus, a sadist who indulges in the lawless world of the post-apocalypse. Beneath his braggadocio, Dementus seems to recognize that some of this is an act, but leadership requires an outsized appearance; thus, his cape and motorcycle chariot. In actuality, Dementus mismanages and bungles a lot, which is a refreshing take in a villain. In this crazy world, he finds pleasure in the recognition of inordinate skill or personality, both of which he finds in Furiosa. Even when Furiosa is close to killing him with expert sniper fire, Hemsworth’s laugh conveys a “Wow, she’s really good!”

The film is divided into five chapters. The third chapter contains perhaps the best action scene in any Mad Max movie, which is to say one of the best action scenes in any movie. In this sequence, Furiosa and her only friend, Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), try to fend off a relentless attack by dozens of scavengers on their war rig carrying valuable food. Again, it reprises a similar chase scenario from Mad Max 2 and Fury Road, but George Miller comes up with cool new camera angles and new methods of adding to the madness that just keep escalating the action until one is flabbergasted by the visceral wonderment.

The only real problem with Furiosa is that having five relatively isolated chapters makes the whole thing feel disjointed in a way that dilutes the overall story’s dramatic power as it doesn’t flow smoothly. Still, this is easily the best action movie since last year’s John Wick: Chapter 4.

George Wu

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