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MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ is an epic film but is too deeply connected to its predecessor 

Everything about this new movie is big and explosive. It’s 148-minute running time is filled with impressive fight sequences that feel completely different from that of the previous film.

It’s been nine years since ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ but the world that George Miller created still lingers as one truly unforgettable onscreen depictions of a brutal post-apocalypse fit for cinema. The stunning visuals of that movie still linger in our minds and returning to this world, this time to explore the backstory of Fury Road’s most magnetic character: Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron) instead of the franchise’s grounding character Mad Max, can be a daunting task. Remember: Furiosa is such a beloved character, and we are coming fresh from the sand dunes of Arrakis from ‘Dune: Part Two.’ How will ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ stand up to that burden?

Fortunately, Miller has come back to the franchise with a lot of his old team: Nico Lathouris returns as his co-writer for this movie, Margaret Sixel returns to the editing chair, accompanied by Eliot Knapman, music scorer Tom Holkenborg and production designer Colin Gibson and a lot more have returned to the wastelands of the Mad Max universe alongside the visionary director. ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ is connected to its narrative sequel, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ so delicately that it’s a film that feels incomplete without it.

© 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

Everything about this new movie is big and explosive. It’s 148-minute running time is filled with impressive fight sequences that feel completely different from that of the previous film. The film opens up the world and explores the inner workings of the broken civilization that is at work. The Citadel that is heavily featured in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ becomes a key location and its inner workings and politics comes under view as well as the economic systems that are at place – Gas Town and The Bullet Farm – that answers any sort of questions like “where do they refill all the gasoline used by their cars” and “how come they never run out of bullets?”

© 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

A lot of the world has opened up now and Furiosa (played in the movie by Alyla Browne as the younger version and Anya Taylor-Joy  as the older version) becomes our eyes, the foil by which this world is seen or understood and experienced. The story begins with Furiosa taken from her home, a place of abundance, and she is brought to the roving warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), who holds on to her as she is the only one who knows where the place of abundance is. Along the way, Dementus makes a play for The Citadel and its ruler Immortan Joe (played Lachy Hume). During their battles, the young Furiosa is traded to Immortan Joe, and she manages to find herself working in the garage and armory of The Citadel. Here: she becomes an invaluable crew member to Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke) and the key to an opportunity to go home opens up as well as revenge for the horrors that Dementus had put her through.

The movie is cut up into chapters and through this narrative we see the trials and challenges that Furiosa faces that will turn her into the badass we get to see in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’ The world building of this movie is immense, and it really widens the scale and scope of the franchise as it has never been done before. It’s no longer a post-apocalyptic nightmare (like the first three movies depicts, though it has been a while since I last saw the films) but it becomes a place where hopes and dreams can somehow take fruit, if the person is strong enough. We know this because we’ve seen the previous film. We know what Furiosa will become and what she will accomplish. Without that knowledge, ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ can feel repetitive and unnecessarily brutal.

© 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

Don’t get me wrong: there’s so much to love and enjoy in ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.’ There’s a kookiness and an irreverence that I can best describe as being very Australian that keeps the imagery a fresh balance of silly and cool. It vacillates effortlessly from epic to comical. This is also best exemplified by Taylor-Joy’s (and Browne’s) ferocity in their portrayal of Furiosa and the way by which Hemsworth embodies the unhinged reckless abandon of Dementus. In fact, Miller manages to emphasize his thesis about the nature of how humanity has broken in its efforts to survive this barren wasteland and one can’t help but feel he’s making a commentary on our world at the same time.There’s even a magnificent 30–35-minute fight sequence that brings Taylor-Joy from the bottom of a war rig all the way above it and inside the driver’s seat and it’s just incredible. It matches anything that was previously done in ‘Fury Road’ (though there is way more generous use of CGI effects, which was not apparent or obvious in the previous film). The film has stunning set pieces and fight choreography. It has gorgeous long shots of motorcycles and other vehicles moving through the sandy dunes of the Australian Outback. In IMAX, the images are absolutely stunning, meeting the high expectations of any George Miller epic.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga movie review
© 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

But the story itself is deeply connected to its predecessor.

I feel that ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ has a difficult time standing on its own. It’s bleak. It’s obviously a set up and it requires ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ to fully flesh out its narrative ambitions. Without spoiling anything, I think it is telling that after the film ends, the credits are interspersed with scenes from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ and its effect amplifies the energy and meaning of that first film. 

It’s an incredible experience but it feels incomplete on its own. It’s obviously leading to something and without it, it’s just a lovely watch.

My Rating:

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is now showing. Check screening times and buy tickets here.

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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
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