Today: June 20, 2024

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

When a prequel to 2015’s acclaimed Mad Max: Fury Road was announced, fans were skeptical – did we need to learn how Charlize Theron’s Furiosa lost her arm, or how she ended up at the Citadel? Of course not. But in the hands of a filmmaker like George Miller, you know that even the most superfluous of films will still be an action-packed thrillride. After all, this is the filmmaker behind Happy Feet and Babe: Pig in the City

While Furiosa is unmistakably George Miller, not once does it feel like a retread of Fury Road. While the over-the-top action sequences and flamethrowing electric guitars are present and correct, there is far more of a focus here on character development and world-building. Anya Taylor-Joy’s Furiosa is an often-silent force of rage and vengeance, and her journey is truly compelling – unlike Fury Road which was effectively a feature-length chase sequence, Furiosa takes us deeper into the Wasteland’s politics and trade deals as we spend time in the Citadel, Bullet Farm, Gastown, and the camp of new villain Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Furiosa considerably expands on Fury Road’s world, without ever feeling damaging to it. 

Taylor-Joy is incredible in the title role, with limited dialogue meaning she has to portray her rage and quest for revenge often with just those distinctive, mesmerising eyes. The film arguably belongs to Hemsworth, though. His Dementus is a vulgar, disgusting and psychotic villain that even makes Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme adeptly replacing the late Hugh Keays-Byrne) seem like a pretty balanced despot. Hemsworth may occasionally veer a little too closely to Jack Sparrowisms, but on the whole, his hideous ruler is the film’s most memorable asset. 

At 148 minutes, Furiosa does occasionally feel perhaps a little bloated. The film’s episodic structure feels akin to missions of a video game – safely escort the War Rig here, safely escort it there – but Miller’s flair for impeccable and oft-surreal action set pieces mean they never become tedious. But it is certainly in the quieter moments that Furiosa excels and stands out from its predecessor. This is an angrier, deeper film about rage and revenge.

Furiosa isn’t going to win over anyone who couldn’t get on the same page as Fury Road. George Miller continues to be the Wes Anderson of action and if you don’t like his unique, meticulous portrayal of an absurdly harrowing and surreal apocalypse then Furiosa isn’t going to change your mind. The longer runtime and episodic structure will soon become a bore. And whether you love Miller or not, you can certainly agree that the film is self-indulgent in its mayhem. Still, fans know what they’re in for and will have a blast.

Furiosa is an altogether different beast to Fury Road, and yet, distinctly of the same vision. The film expands upon its predecessor beautifully while slowing down considerably to allow for an expansion of its world and lore. Fans will be delighted, but newcomers should probably prepare themselves for what is objectively a self-indulgent romp of mayhem from an action auteur. 

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