Directed by: George Miller
Written by: George Miller, Nico Lathouris
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Alyla Browne, Nathan Jones, Josh Helman, Angus Sampson
Released: May 23, 2024
Grade: B+

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Some films quickly fade from memory but that wasn’t the case with George Miller’s iconic 2015 sequel, Mad Max: Fury Road.  Featuring wild, stylish chase sequences, it was a 2-hour, non-stop action ride that had the courage to never slow down.  Why use dialogue when a picture can paint a thousand words, right?  The film’s boldness and imagination saw it rewarded with 6 Academy Awards (losing best picture to Spotlight) and a global box-office haul exceeding $380 million USD. (a modest hit, not a smash hit).

Serving as a prequel to Fury Road, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga spans two decades and begins in a more traditional approach.  We spend time getting to know key characters and the action is milder.  It’s centered on a pre-teen Furiosa (Browne) who is kidnapped by a nasty horde and taken to the desolate home of its power-hungry leader, Dementus (Hemsworth).  Set in a post-apocalyptic version of Australia where survival revolves around commodities in limited supply - food, water, energy, and weapons - Dementus believes Furiosa is of value as both an information source and a bargaining chip.

Those looking for explosive combat must wait until the second and third acts when Miller, working with co-writer Nico Lathouris, ramps things up.  The plot is straight-forward and semi-irrelevant (similar to past outings) – a now grown Furiosa (Taylor-Joy) seeks bloody revenge against Dementus and his crew.  With the stage set, it’s now time for elaborately choreographed battles involving weird-looking, fast-moving vehicles.  I’m not sure where 79-year-old George Miller gets his wacky ideas (and character names) but he stands out from the pack within the action genre.

I don’t think Furiosa achieves the same “edge of your seat” impact as its predecessor.  The opening is a touch slow, a few plot points miss the mark (what was with Quaden Bayles’ character?), and while the lengthy pursuits hold your attention, there’s a familiarity with Fury Road which makes them less original.  Still, I generally enjoyed what Miller has served up and it’s hard not to be impressed by the crew’s talents – from the costume designers and make-up artists through the cinematographer and stuntpeople (doing a better job of showcasing the craft than they did in The Fall Guy).

The cast also excels.  A friend expressed doubt about Chris Hemsworth’s (Thor) ability to play a convincing “bad guy” but, helped by a remarkable different physical appearance, he’s up to the challenge.  I like the splash of humour he brings to the character.  Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit) barely says a word, but her facial expressions and brutish intensity make her a great hero to cheer for.  Australian actress Alyla Browne (Sting) also has a strong screen presence as the young Furiosa.

Shot in Australia this time around (the last movie was filmed in Namibia), Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is another worthwhile instalment in George Miller’s distinctive franchise.