Action Adventure

Review: ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ is an Epic, High-Octane Origin Story Worthy of the ‘Mad Max’ Moniker

May 23, 2024Ben MK

When it comes to post-apocalyptic cinema, George Miller practically invented the genre. With Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, the legendary director unleashed upon audiences his unique vision of a society gone to hell after nuclear war makes fuel the most valuables commodity on the planet. And then, three decades later, Miller followed up his cult classic trilogy with Mad Max: Fury Road, a full-throttle sequel that introduced moviegoers to one of the most unforgettable action heroines in recent memory, the Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. Now, nearly a decade later, the 79-year-old filmmaker is back with a vengeance with Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. But does this blood-and-gasoline-soaked prequel live up to its predecessors?

Set a couple odd decades before Fury Road, the story follows the young Furiosa (Alyla Browne), a girl from a secret village known to as the Green Place, where food and water are plentiful. An oasis free from the violence, murder and treachery perpetuated by those who roam the deserts beyond its borders, it's a veritable paradise in the middle of the living nightmare that is the Wasteland. However, when Furiosa is kidnapped by marauders scavenging for the cult leader Doctor Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), she's thrust directly into the madness her people have worked so hard to help keep her away from. Losing her mother (Charlee Fraser) in the process, Furiosa soon becomes a prisoner of Dementus, whose power-hungry desires lead him to wage a siege against the Citadel, where the warlord Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) and his army of War Boys lie in wait. Unfortunately, when Dementus underestimates his opponent's might, it's Furiosa who finds herself becoming a bartering chip.

Fast forward 15 years, and a now 20-something-year-old Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) has seen more with her young eyes than anyone her age should ever see. Handpicked by Immortan Joe himself to become one of his future brides, she managed to change her fate, escaping into the bowels of the Citadel, where she's worked ever since alongside the mechanics tasked with building Joe's impressive tools for vehicular carnage. What she never expected, though, was to ever get a chance to see Dementus again. So when the opportunity arises to exact her revenge on him, she seizes it. Teaming up with the road warrior Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), the driver of Joe's war rig, Furiosa she ventures out into the Wasteland with only one mission in mind. But will her bloodthirsty quest for retribution be her downfall? Or will Dementus live to rue the day he ever set eyes on her?

Suffice to say, you don't have to have seen all four prior Mad Max movies to partake in the series' fifth installment. However, those who enjoyed Fury Road will most certainly get the most mileage from this high-octane origin story, as the film works best as a direct lead-in to Miller's 2015 action masterpiece. Whether it's revisiting familiar locales and characters first brought to the screen by its predecessor, integrating them with the visual aesthetic of the original trilogy, or introducing new aspects of the Mad Max universe previously unrealized on the big screen, Furiosa does so with vigorous aplomb, rarely pausing to catch its breath in between spectacular, stunt-filled action sequences. Most impressive, though, is Taylor-Joy, whose gritty performance as the movie's titular character ought to quell any doubt as to whether she's qualified to take on the mantle from Theron.

It all adds up to the most exhilarating cinematic experience of the year thus far. Yet, in spite of all its over-the-top, engine-revving glory, there are definitely moments when Furiosa comes across as too epic and too indulgent for its own good. Nonetheless, the result is still miles away from mediocre. And as far as future entries in Miller's post-apocalyptic film franchise are concerned, that certainly bodes well for moviegoers hoping to one day reenter the Wasteland and revisit the ongoing saga of the one they call Mad Max.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga releases May 24th, 2024 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for sequences of strong violence, and grisly images. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 28 min.

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