Director: George Miller Screenwriter: George Miller, Nico Lathouris Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Alyla Browne Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Running Time: 148 min. MPAA: R

Anya Taylor-Joy from Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Nine years after Fury Road, director George Miller returns to the world of Mad Max in Furiosa with more of, well, everything. He finds more to explore in its world, crafts more compelling characters, and loads up enough visual flair that demands to be witnessed as hard as the War Boys declaring their acts of violence. For being a prequel where we more or less know who is going to survive by the final frame, it’s astounding how engrossing this film becomes, making it easy to got within its eye-popping splendor than think about the relation to the previous Mad Max movie.

What helps make this film more distinct is that it feels like an ongoing chase from Fury Road and more like a post-apocalyptic epic all its own. After a brief end-of-the-world recap, we’re introduced to a young Furiosa (Alyla Browne) and the evil forces of Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Furiosa remains stoic in the face of such evil, keeping her mouth shut about her hidden paradise home. She recognizes the vicious nature of Dementus trying to hide itself behind his bearded smile and longing to be a dad again. Dementus becomes an intriguing villain in this regard for having a firm balance between a man longing to recapture fatherhood and an egotistical twat who wants to steal resources. None of this makes him sympathetic, but all of it makes him a treat to watch.

For the Fury Road fans, there’s plenty more of Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) in the film, as he becomes a rival for Dementus. There’s also highlights of previously mentioned locations like Gastown and the Bullet Farm, showcased in far more detail this time around for some intense chases. None of this is treated like some nostalgic fanservice, as though audiences are expected to cheer when Joe’s lumbering bean counter, The People Eater (John Howard), enters the frame. Enough time has passed where all this feels new to a certain degree. So by the time Furiosa comes of age to be played by Anya Taylor-Joy, I’m not thinking about how well she compares to Charlize Theron. This is a role Taylor-Joy owns for embodying the stoic, bad-ass woman on a quest for revenge.

The action is as fast, gritty, and intense as Fury Road, possibly moreso. There are so many daring convoy ambushes and explosive treks through the various locations that it never bores. The pays off are brilliant, as when one tanker transport boasts a rear weapon referred to as The Bobby Knocker. Throughout the chase of raiders assaulting the tanker from land and air, there’s great anticipation for when that weapon will be used. It does not disappoint. Considering how fast the body count increases for these thrilling car battles, there’s that unexpected dose of goosebumps when witnessing all the carnage that maybe Furiosa won’t make it out of this one. My brain told me she would, but my heart said “HOLY SHIT, SHE’S ABOUT TO GET BLOWN UP BY DYNOMITE ON A GAS TANKER!”

Miller’s storytelling also finds more to explore than cool chases and wild post-apocalyptic designs, though admittedly that is a huge draw. Broken up into chapters, the film does feel like a more thoughtful quest for vengeance. By the time Furiosa has taken a lot of blows and killed a lot of people, she is served up her moment of closure and it’s not comforting. I love how Furiosa comes to understand the cold nature of eye-for-an-eye mentality when contrasting with Dementus, a man who has clearly had a lot of time to think about loss and rage. Although Furiosa doesn’t speak much throughout the story, her final scene saves her best words for last. It’s a bitter finale that is as intricate with its acting as the chases are with their kills.

It’s so much damn fun to explore more of the Mad Max saga through Furiosa. Like a mechanic fixing up old cars, George Miller gives the Mad Max franchise another vibrant tune-up. He puts in a new engine, gives it a fresh coat of paint, and fires it up for speed in all the best ways. Few franchise manage to feel this exuberant with age and even fewer when treading into the iffy grounds of prequel. Miller shreds through this territory like a monster truck zooming across dunes, proving there’s more to explore within Mad Max than more spray-paint on mouths and the origins of Furiosa’s mechanical arm. You’ll get all that in this film, but so, so, so, so much more.

You may also like