A Mad Max Saga Movie Review

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga movie poster

Welcome back to the Wastelands, and what a welcome it is! Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a deliriously explosive action epic that meets the high expectations set by its predecessor Fury Road. Humming with high-octane energy, this prequel is weird, imaginatively twisted, and inventively exciting, all the hallmarks of a successful Mad Max tale.

Set years before the events of Fury Road, this one ditches Max in favor of Charlize Theron’s shaved-head, one-armed, badass character—as well as Charlize Theron herself, who is replaced by the younger Anya Taylor-Joy and even younger Alyla Browne. Snatched from a beautiful sanctuary of “abundance,” the tough-willed Furiosa is raised in a cage by Dr. Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), a motorcycle-riding warlord who has aspirations to rule the Wastelands of what was once Australia.

What’s amazing about Furiosa is that it delivers much of what Fury Road did–weird characters, elaborate and adrenaline-fueled action scenes, and tough-as-steel protagonists–while standing apart in terms of tone and story. In many ways the movie is broader in scope than Fury Road, offering a broader view of the dynamics of this world George Miller has built over the last 45 years. Every Mad Max movie is different from the last, and Furiosa is thankfully no different.

Taylor-Joy plays an admirable Furiosa, though one could argue she gets lost in her own film. Similar to how Theron/Furiosa stole the show from Max in Fury Road, Taylor-Joy, as much as she immerses herself in the character and film, gets overshadowed by her younger and lesser known counterpart; Browne is absolutely fantastic as young Furiosa, to the point I could have watched a whole movie with her in the role. Hemsworth too is a scene-stealer; prosthetic nose aside, he is largely unrecognizable as he delivers what could be the best performance of his career as the deranged but oddly charming villain. 

If you’re bought into this world and Miller’s style, there is very little not to like. Furiosa is 30 minutes longer than its predecessor; between its length and the multi-year story it tells, it isn’t as lean or singularly intense as Fury Road. And yet Miller keeps you on the edge of the seat, and if you choose your theater rightly your seat will, like mine, literally shake anytime someone presses the gas pedal. Miller offers up multiple high-octane action scenes, including a breathtaking sequence where the title character spends half her time hanging from the undercarriage of a semi-truck. 

As expected, the visual effects are stellar as well. While there are a few more obvious CGI moments than in Fury Road, it’s largely impossible to tell where the practical stunts end and the visual effects begin. That, my friends, is the sign of good work.

A visually gorgeous and sweat-inducingly exciting experience from start to finish, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a glorious sight to behold. And one that deserves to be seen on the biggest and loudest screen around. Welcome back to the Wastelands indeed.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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