Thursday, May 23, 2024


 by Rob DiCristino


Any list of the greatest films of the 21st century would have to include George Miller’s 2015 opus Mad Max: Fury Road, a lean, mean, and unforgiving banshee of an actioner whose visual craft is matched only by its storytelling elegance. Far more than just Car Chase: The Movie, Miller’s film is a parable of survival in which wayward pilgrims brave the horrors of the apocalypse in search of their long-lost humanity, embarking on grueling crucibles across barren hellscapes where warlords exploit the desperate and regret haunts the righteous. Scavengers like Max Rockatansky grasp at fleeting remnants of home and family, concepts that persist only as abstracts in a place devoid of any optimism for the future. “Hope is a mistake,” Max tells Imperator Furiosa, a general in a warlord’s army who risks life and limb (those that remain, anyway) to rescue a pack of innocent women and bring them to the utopia of her youth. Furiosa has to hope, though. She has to believe. She has no choice. In Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Miller returns to show us how that hope was born.
His five-chapter epic begins in the fabled Green Place, where a young Furiosa (Alayla Browne, all eyebrows and hutzpah) lives in a land of gentle abundance until raiders from the Biker Horde murder her mother (a fierce Charlee Fraser) and bring her before Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), an ostentatious brute in search of a kingdom of his own. Furiosa becomes his reluctant ward — a shadow of the children he lost When the World Fell — and joins his siege on the Citadel, an oasis ruled by the cruel Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme, taking over for the late Hugh Keays-Byrne). Outlasting Joe and his War Boys, Dementus trades Furiosa for control of nearby Gas Town and spends the ensuing decade mismanaging it so catastrophically that he provokes a war between Wasteland strongholds. In that time, Furiosa (now Anya Taylor-Joy) learns to navigate the bowels of the Citadel and graduates to captain of the War Rig alongside handsome Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke). She watches, learns, and shrewdly earns her way into a final confrontation with Dementus, the monster who tore her family apart.

In every way broader and more expansive than its predecessor, Furiosa stretches Fury Road’s idiosyncratic universe to so many new extremes that a literal History Man (George Shevtsov) is needed on hand to chronicle the developments. While this gives Miller and co-writer Nico Lathouris exciting new avenues for storytelling, it may feel jarring to audiences who found Fury Road’s relative lack of plot a welcome reprieve from modern blockbusters that ask us to keep several Wikipedia tabs open just to follow along. With more plot also comes more exposition, and with our hero excepted — Neither Furiosa has more than a handful of lines — audiences can expect a good deal more dialogue than in Fury Road, as well. Thankfully, Furiosa is also packed with enough chrome-plated hardware to keep diesel-spitting black thumbs salivating across its sweeping 148-minute runtime, and rather than attempt to replicate Fury Road’s high-wire intensity for that long — a truly impossible task — Miller elects for an episodic pace that allows each story to linger with more individuality.
There’s a tradeoff there, however, as Furiosa’s more ambitious structure often comes at the expense of character nuance and depth. Were we not already harboring so much love for Charlize Theron’s iteration of Furiosa, we might have trouble tracking this one’s more obtuse moral transformation, which is especially troublesome when her final form is such a foregone conclusion. This omission is most egregious in her relationship — or lack thereof — with Immortan Joe, who haunted Fury Road with such despicable savagery that we were sure her decision to free his captive wives was more personal than evident here. Despite Hemsworth’s charming turn, Dementus lacks a strong guiding ethos until he issues an Act Five screed against hope that would have been far more effective in Act One. Miller’s taking a bit too much on faith here, counting on his audience’s affections to carry over rather than doing the work to earn them again. It’s hard not to recall the Matrix sequels in that regard, films that make the world of the iconic original twice as grand but only half as interesting.
Still, there’s more than enough meat on Furiosa’s bones to make it at least a worthy addition to the greater Mad Max universe (Beyond Thunderdome is an appropriate analog, I think), and there’s an argument to be made that excessive comparisons to Fury Road are not merely unfair to Furiosa but counter to its goals. George Miller has already made his masterpiece; now he’s making a more meditative addendum, a parable that compliments its predecessor — or sequel, depending on how you look at it — with a bit of shading and a new color or two. Absolutely nothing in Furiosa’s action or storytelling matches the sheer orgiastic joy of Fury Road — a middle act attack on a War Rig tries its best and comes off worse for it — but it’s also great just to see the mad Aussie painting on his favorite canvas again. He’s given himself plenty of runway to expand his Wasteland beyond any established horizons, to give it new texture and sketch out the continuing adventures of his favorite heroes. If they’ve got even half the horsepower of Furiosa, we’re in for one hell of a ride.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga hits theaters on Friday, May 24th.


  1. I expect nothing less than another masterpiece. So if it's not that... No deal! 😁😎

    I'm joking of course. Can't wait to watch it

  2. outstanding review as always...thanks RD! Am suuuuuper stoked to see this one on a big ole screen ASAP.