Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Review

Reviews Films


Strap in scavs! On May 23rd Aussie auteur George Miller once again fangs audiences across the post apocalyptic central Australian wasteland. Expanding the rebooted universe established with 2015’s Fury Road, Furiosa gives us the full life and times of the titular antiheroine. Well, the important bits anyway. Her rise from unwilling captive snatched away from goodness, to mute feral. To praetorian leading war boys from the Citadel. Furiosa’s tale is intertwined with the subtle as a boot political machinations of The Three Strongholds. Along with the macabre looney tunes cast of characters running the show. 

The Citadel, Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), Gastown, usurped by Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) and later controlled by The People Eater (John Howard), The Bullet Farm and The Bullet Farmer (Lee Perry). Furiosa fills in some but not all of the backstory of these warlords of the wasteland and the factions they loosely command.

Anya Taylor-Joy is magnificent as Furiosa. A dark angel of the wastes, as The History Man (George Shevtsov) tells it. A less disciplined but equally savage version of the character previously played by Charlize Theron. Some lengthy scenes and sequences force Taylor-Joy to deliver her performance using only her eyes. A piercing, steely, gaze addressing situations with a curt, ‘fuck around and you’re gonna find out’.

In a career moment, Chris Hemsworth is giving his all portraying warlord Dementus. Leader of a large enclave of roaming motorcycle warriors. A manic, psychotic, sun tanned wild card who’s hunger for power and violence overrules his common sense. Dementus is part raging poet, part menacing bikie chapter president. Part Jack Sparrow, on par with everyone’s unruly mate Damo irritatingly impersonating Johnny Depp at three am on a train platform. Dementus and his sycophants cruise the wasteland like termites, consuming everything.

The film is a departure in formula from the Mad Max series. Structurally different, the story is broken up across five named chapters. Vast passages of time is skipped between these sections, relying on audiences to fill in the blanks themselves. At two and a half hours, it’s a big ask. In some parts these passages of time are displayed metaphorically, many transitions in the film would be suitable plastered across a mural. In a way, that’s the point. Miller makes no secret about the entries in the series being cave painting representation of myth and legend. Furiosa is the first Mad Max film to lean further into this visually.

If you’re just in it for the road carnage, there’s loads of it. But the chase sequences are shorter. Less spectacular than seen in Fury Road. It would be difficult to meet or top that expectation while trying to tell this story. However, the action, method of attack and vehicles invented are just as ballsy as previous films. It’s well worth the price of admission.

Miller often takes his Mad Max films to dark and unusual places. These stories are no stranger to themes of abuse and violence. While these moments have been unnerving and sometimes terrifying, they’ve been short. Impactful. Furiosa approaches these themes differently. Furiosa takes its time and dwells on its portrayal of abuse, violence, torture and murder. There’s a mean spirit to it, which is necessary to authenticate Furiosa’s anguish and lust for vengeance. What Max Rockatansky had to deal with in previous films is a cakewalk compared to Furiosa’s entire life. These hard moments are broken up with self-referential easter eggs and visual gags that may have empathetic audiences shuffling in their seats, wondering why they’re smiling or chuckling after that just happened.

For anybody unclear, yes, a poignant but fleeting throwaway scene makes this a Mad Max film. He’s still there, roaming, watching, avoiding. By the time he finds himself involved with that epic chase across the road historic, Max and Furiosa are more connected than she knows.

If Fury Road and Mad Max 2 are the perfect 10, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is an 8/10 word burgers. Another triumph of dark Aussie road fantasy from the master. It’s different, but it can’t be overstated enough that it’s still a fucking good time. Go see it on an extreme screen. It’s a film of abundance.

Luke is writing short stories, screenplays and film reviews when he's not at the day job or looking after the needs of his family. So one Powerball...