Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)

Director: George Miller

Running Time: 148 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Alyla Browne, Tom Burke, George Shevtsov, Lachy Hulme, John Howard, Charlee Fraser, Angus Sampson

In 2015, director George Miller returned to the Mad Max franchise with Mad Max: Fury Roada stunning revitalization of both the 45 year-old series and the action genre. This phenomenal return garnered critical acclaim and many accolades, including 6 Academy Awards and a Best Picture nomination, yet that was not all Miller planned for this series. He and co-writer Nico Lathouris had a script ready for a prequel around Charlize Theron's breakout character, Imperator Furiosa, which was even used by the actress as a reference for her portrayal.

The intention was to shoot the prequel back-to-back with Fury Road, yet those plans were stalled due to a lawsuit filed against Warner Bros over unpaid earnings. With those legal issues now resolved, Miller can return to play in this impressively crafted sandbox with Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. The story unfolds after the world fell, where a young Furiosa (Alyla Browne) is snatched from her home and kept captive by a Biker Horde led by the warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). As a war for dominance unfolds between Dementus and Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), an older Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) plots a way to finally return home.

For anybody expecting a redux of Fury Road and its pedal-to-the-medal propulsive narrative, be sure to adjust your expectations. What has been crafted is a guzzolene-soaked odyssey which allows for a quieter narrative, expanding on previously introduced locations to show how the Bullet Farm is operated, what the subjugated people in The Citadel do to stay alive, and a chance at witnessing the previously-mentioned splendor of the Green Place of Many Mothers. This is all part of a narrative which experiences this world through Furiosa's eyes, as the occurrences and people impact upon her during these formative years.

That does not mean the film lacks the vehicular carnage, as Miller once more delivers stunning sequences which highlights his impressive eye that has kept this series going for so long. Whether it is a chase through the sand, an impressive war-rig set sequence, or a thrilling ambush, these set-pieces once again shows how Miller can revisit this world without rehashing previous ideas, while also reviving the eternal question of how more people were not hurt during filming. The only criticism involves some glaring utilizations of CG and greenscreens which momentarily take one out of the film, particularly during the aforementioned war-rig sequence.

Front and centre of this work is Furiosa herself. If Charlize Theron's iteration of the character sought redemption by rebelling against the iron grip of Immortan Joe and his cult, Anya Taylor-Joy's take is focused on revenge for her lost innocence courtesy of a traumatic childhood. A gripping performance brings alive the character, with the resolve and burning fury being passionately captured in the performer's eyes, making up this figure who attempts to move forward by making a deal with the Immortan devil. While it all leads to Furiosa being the Imperator we first meet in Fury Road, it is an experience which enrichens the previous depiction of the character while avoiding others franchise's pitfalls of treating revelations as cheap fan-service gimmicks.

In the antagonistic role, Chris Hemsworth is a gem as the bike-loving Dementus. Utilising a fake nose and a voice verging on cartoonish, the Thor actor disappears into the role of a wannabe warlord that wants to make a name for himself. As the unfolding tale shows his struggles at standing toe-to-toe with other warlords, it highlights how this man trying to weaponize his inner hurt is truly pitiful in comparison. As he continues the cycle of trauma with Furiosa, it makes for a fascinating figure whose actions reverberate while being key to this tale.

Just about every part of this film works to bring this story alive, including Tom Holkenborg's score that manages to stand apart while evoking his Fury Road score, Simon Duggan's cinematography that makes a wasteland look so stunning, and the triumphant editing of Eliot Knapman and Margaret Sixel. It all makes up an exceptional feature which captures how one-of-a-kind a George Miller film truly is. Witness Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga on the biggest screen possible, and come away with eager anticipation for whatever Miller does next.

Furisoa: A Mad Max Saga is available in cinemas now