‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ isn’t just the new ‘Fury Road’, it’s an epic beast of it’s own – Review

For almost 50 years, filmmaker George Miller has throttled audiences into the post-apocalyptic, high-octane, and downright weird Australian wastelands with a series of movies that follow the reluctant and unassuming hero, Max Rockatansky (played the original trilogy of Mad Max films by Mel Gibson, and then reprised by Tom Hardy in 2015s Mad Max: Fury Road).

Maintaining a cult-like status in the cinema space for decades, it wasn’t until Miller’s relentless and explosive Mad Max: Fury Road that not only garnered the highest critical acclaim for the series, but also showcased some of the most jaw-dropping action set pieces ever put to cinema, where the masses finally cottoned on to the insanity of the world of Mad Max.

And one of Fury Road’s unanimous highlights was the introduction of Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, a battle-hardened lieutenant to the film’s villain, Immortan Joe. Furiosa’s tenacity as a warrior with a strong moral code proved a worthy counterpart to Max, and was a fantastic addition to the world of Mad Max. So much so, that George Miller has created a sweeping epic, taking place over a decade before the events of Fury Road, that explores how Furiosa came to be.

Furiosa’s journey begins as an adventurous, inquisitive young girl (played by Alyla Browne) who is kidnapped from the Green Place of Many Mothers by bandits who hail from the Biker Horde, led by eccentric warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Taking a liking to Furiosa’s tenacity, Dementus raises Furiosa as his own daughter, unaware that underneath her timid demeanour, a fury begins to grow, and revenge for the pain he has endured on to her pushes Furiosa to being her own journey.

Now a young woman (played here by Anya Taylor-Joy), Furiosa becomes a key part of a war between Dementus and the tyrants who control the world’s most desired elements: gasoline, bullets, and water. As Furiosa becomes more entrenched within this war, she learns the essential skills that turn her into a warrior who will fight to the death to get back home.

Even though Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga continues with the harsh orange desert palette, psychedelic aesthetic that the franchise is visually famous for, and features the same style of frenetic, brutal action of its predecessor, Furiosa sets itself apart as more a film set within the universe of Mad Max, rather than just being “the next Fury Road”, and that’s a really great thing. If you’re just expecting Fury Road but with Anya Taylor-Joy, curb those expectations because what Furiosa lacks in the punchiness of Fury Road’s pacing, it makes up for in rich, epic world building and lore expanding for Furiosa as a character, and the mythology of The Wasteland.

While the pacing is far more patient compared to all previous Mad Max films, that doesn’t mean the action that’s on display isn’t epic. It is. Especially a jaw-dropping 15-minute set piece that is nail-bitingly tense and furiously electric and highlights the evolution of stunt co-ordinator Guy Norris’ incredible in-camera choreography.

The action is used more sparingly within Furiosa, which helps the impact of its brutality. George Miller has somehow found away to make the feeling of the desolate, psychotic wasteland even more harrowing with some of the violence shown in Furiosa, and not all of it action-based either. But Miller manages to balance the brutality and the exciting explosiveness with ease, second nature to a filmmaker who has spent the better part of 40 years within this world.

There are moments within Furiosa in which Anya Taylor-Joy’s interpretation of the titular character is a spitting image of what Charlize Theron developed almost a decade ago, but without being cheap imitation. Taylor-Joy understands that the Furiosa in this story isn’t the hardened warrior yet, but the rage that creates this warrior is ever growing throughout this story, and through this performance. There are moments where Taylor-Joy seems to suit the emotionality of Furiosa over the physicality, but her presence overall is an essential ingredient to the epic scale of the film.

It’s Chris Hemsworth who really gets to play into the unhinged nature of The Wasteland, and oh, what fun he has. Hemsworth is at his best as Dementus. The jarring intimidation often juxtaposed by zany cowardice allows Hemsworth the show such palpable range. He’s as terrifying as he is silly as he is a huge piece of shit. Dementus is another addition to iconic Mad Max villains who steal every second of screen that they’re featured.

Where Furiosa: A Mad Max Sage truly shines is in George Miller’s expansion of the Mad Max world. He hammers home the idea that so many stories and characters exist in The Wasteland, and each new, absurd idea Miller introduces in the story just creates a desire to find out more. The lore that is explored in Furiosa is so rich, that truly Mad Max fans will have plenty to chew on, but for those who are less initiated with the insanity will still be full engrossed in how epic in scale this story is.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga isn’t “the next Fury Road”. It’s a furious beast of it’s own that still showcases epic, explosive action, but instead swaps the punchiness of Fury Road for a more patient, large scale, sweeping epic of a story that only leaves the desire for more stories from The Wasteland to be told.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is in cinemas May 23, courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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For almost 50 years, filmmaker George Miller has throttled audiences into the post-apocalyptic, high-octane, and downright weird Australian wastelands with a series of movies that follow the reluctant and unassuming hero, Max Rockatansky (played the original trilogy of Mad Max films by Mel Gibson,...'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' isn't just the new 'Fury Road', it's an epic beast of it's own - Review