Furiosa Proves There’s Plenty of Gas Left in the Tank of The Mad Max Saga

As the world falls around us, how must we brave its cruelties?

This writer does not have a lot of regrets in life. Of course there’s the odd haircut and the decision to show up to a school non-uniform day in a pair of chinos. But by god! There is no more horrific a fact that rattles the brain and wreaks havoc on the soul as much as failing to see Mad Max: Fury Road on the big-screen. Excuses can be made, but why even bother? It is a cross that this writer must bear and even more of a reason as to why this review exists: the idea of missing greatness twice is simply not an option. 

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is the latest from George Miller‘s wasteland sprawling adventure into a post nuclear apocalypse. Furiosa is the titular heroine based on a character from Fury Road who was played by Charlize Theron in a blisteringly staggering performance. Furiosa traces her life before she encountered Tom Hardy’s Max on the Fury Road and is more than just a simple prequel. In the nine years that have passed since the release of Fury Road, Miller had long teased developing Furiosa’s story, but it felt as though it would only be a dream among fans begging for more fuel-injected stories from the wasteland. Now that it has arrived the pressure is on for Miller to recapitalise on the success of Fury Road, a film that marked his return to the saga for the first time in thirty years. Luckily for audiences everywhere, Miller thrives under this pressure. 

Furiosa charts the early life of a future rebel; from her capture at the hands of the twisted Dementus, to her role as the Imperator at the behest of Immortan Joe in Fury Road. Revealing the backstory to one of cinema’s most recent triumphs can seem risky in essence. Is it better to leave the mystique in the imagination? Or does Miller take the risk of explaining everything and imperil the brilliance of Fury Road? Instead Miller creates something that is both prequel by definition but also an odyssey by nature. One that plays with time in a sense that it could be perceived as something else entirely. Fury Road took place over a few days, whilst this film spans decades. The  time leaps can take audiences by surprise but Miller is careful not to get too bogged down by explanation. A film such as this is one that certainly doesn’t rely upon dialogue for exposition. When you are watching a film where the action works as well as it does here, who needs it?!


Beginning in an area of “abundance” as one character calls it, Furiosa’s opening sequence is nothing short of visual splendour. A chase sequence harkens to a familiar future for the now young Furiosa. Snatched from an idyllic eden with the never-ending desolation of the wasteland surrounding it on all fronts, the story takes the malleable shape of a revenge cycle from the outset but plays with it to be more than just that. Watching the opening sequence where sharp action combines with intriguing visuals brings forth a sense of ease within this writer. Almost from the get-go the feeling of relief is overwhelming. Miller has done it again.  

Where its predecessor relied on non-stop action thrills and heart-pounding battle sequences (featuring a character whose entire purpose was to shred on a guitar whilst being suspended in the front of a truck), Furiosa is a controlled release. Separated into five chapters, the film spans decades in time but never loses itself or relinquishes a sense of awe for the sheer work that goes into it. Allowing for moments of world-building, the barren deserted landscape has never felt so alive. Characters desperate for each drop of ‘guzzolene’ to power their engines, the care to expand on the world with each passing moment is a cherishable feat in an industry that falls short of doing so in other works. Each chapter tells a story unto itself but with each transition there comes a sense of familiarity. Witnessing Furiosa learn the tricks of the trade (when the trade is a death-defying series of tasks built to reduce the employees into verifiable cannon-fodder) has never been so enthralling. 

The role of Furiosa is played by Alyla Browne during the younger period of her life before Anya Taylor-Joy grabs the mantle about forty-five minutes into the film. A welcome risk it turns out to be because whilst Browne stands in during the most formative events in Furiosa’s life, she does so with tremendous presence. Taylor-Joy’s arrival into the role is marked and shot to perfection. Her trademark piercing eyes concealing a lifetime of hardship and a resolve more powerful than any V8 engine and seeing how they are utilised throughout shows that, if waxing lyrical be permitted, she may have been born purely to do this. One particular shot shows Furiosa reversing a car whilst the light coming in from the rear window shines only onto her eyes, and if that isn’t what the motion picture was created with a view to do then who even knows what else it could have been for?

Chris Hemsworth’s Dementus is the villainous wannabe warlord who craves everything in his path whilst relishing every syllable he emits. Dementus is the driving force in Furiosa’s story and Hemsworth is delivering what may be his best performance to-date. Sporting a prosthetic nose and mispronouncing a word in every sentence, Hemsworth seems at-home in Dementus. On a journey that will find himself crossing paths with familiar characters, it is almost true to say that the film runs into danger in letting Hemsworth lead the proceedings and run with it. This is where the structure of the film really shines through in never letting things get too wrapped and stagnating. Years span before the viewers’ eyes and with each new chapter a new sense of direction takes place.  

Furiosa at its most basic is a story of revenge but to classify it as just that would be a disservice. It is at its most interesting when it subverts the simple revenge narrative and instead interrogates the nature of what drives (low-hanging fruit but unavoidable) one to go to the lengths that they see fit to go to. It is an exploration as to how one can see a future in a truly hopeless situation. Is hope even necessary? Avoiding cliché, the film strikes a balance between tone in allowing for some comedic relief without descending into ridiculousness. Hemsworth especially hams it up with the best of them here, but there is also a caution used in order to maintain a sense of hardship and hopelessness that the characters endure. The end result of the odyssey almost takes second place when compared to what fuels Furiosa to keep going. 

The endlessly barren landscape of Australia on display throughout the film is a supporting role that must not be ignored. Providing a space for the more colourful characters to stand out, it also plays host to some breathtaking action sequences that will have one salivating for a rewatch of Fury Road immediately. Miller chooses to splice them in relatively sparingly but their effect in each chapter is thoroughly rewarding. From a motorbike chase that kicks the film off to a hijack attempt that will have one reaching for the defibrillator, Miller is a safe pair of hands when it comes to delivering on spectacle. 

Furiosa will of course be compared to Fury Road but to do so will be to the detriment of the experience. Furiosa not only compliments its predecessor, it enriches the experience. The argument against its existence and letting the mystique of the experience be its salvation falls by the wayside here. In Fury Road, viewers see a character attempt to redeem themselves by performing a noble act. In Furiosa, viewers see what she had to overcome to even arrive at that point. Taylor-Joy’s work is a testament to her position as one of the most interesting actors working today. Miller proves there’s still plenty in the tank of this saga. Let the guzzolene flow!

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is in cinemas now!

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