Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

By: Adam Freed

Buried deep in the golden sands of George Miller’s dystopian prequel Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a mechanical heartbeat pumping adrenaline through its veins.  The legendary Australian director’s follow up to the incendiary Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is every bit the technical marvel as the original, albeit in a very different type of story.  Replacing Charlize Theron in the title role is Anya Taylor-Joy (Queen’s Gambit, The Menu).  Unlike Theron who carried with her a commanding physical presence, Taylor-Joy is a physically demure and heronlike presence, who has to work aggressively to fill the ferocity of Furiosa’s frame.  Given the prequel nature of the film, this casting proves positive as desert dwelling human goddesses are not born, rather they are made of extreme hardship, a transformation that Anya Taylor-Joy captures both emotionally and physically with aplomb.  

Despite playing a familiar song with different instruments, the 79 year old George Miller, famous for avoiding scripts in favor of a thousands of storyboard frames, leans heavily into the dazzling superstardom of fellow countrymen Chris Hemsworth to carry much of Furiosa’s energy. Hemsworth plays the memorable and delightfully witty Dr. Dementus, a wasteland warlord in pursuit of bullets, water and gasoline, the holy trinity of the Mad Max saga.  Hidden behind a prosthetic nose and teeth, attempts to mar Hemsworth’s adonis-like appearance, Dementus’ charm and raw comedic timing work surprisingly well, proving a wonderful addition to a previously humorless world.  

Employing a surprisingly more methodical pace than Fury Road, Miller’s latest still holds water, but for almost an entirely different set of reasons. The performance of Anya Taylor-Joy, who is surprisingly absent from the first hour of the film, a choice that fits within the confines of the story, proves that her rise to stardom may now be complete. Furiosa’s childhood life of abundance is quickly interrupted when a ragtag group of wasteland marauders kidnap her, thereby severing her connection to the natural world and violently introducing her to the perilous landscape of gasoline, sandstorms and an endless supply of gunfire.  

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is not as good as Fury Road, but how many action movies can meet such an impossibly high standard? Furiosa invokes nowhere near the spine tingling propulsive elation as its predecessor, yet is still endlessly satisfying.  Those who purchase tickets to Furiosa in search of a meaningful addition to George Miller’s anthology of practical stunt based action films will certainly not go home disappointed. Boasting no less than a handful of gloriously memorable set pieces, Furiosa vindicates itself by proving that it certainly has what it takes to make a meaningful origin story that blazes its own dusty and destructive desert path.

Target Score 8/10:  George Miller’s prequel to the megawatt and genre defining Mad Max: Fury Road travels well beyond fan service in its expansion of the Furiosa and Mad Max universe.  Boosted by a duo of undeniable screen presences, Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth make Furiosa a chaotic joy to behold.