Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

May 25, 2024
2 mins read

ASHTON BROWN finds the latest instalment of the Mad Max franchise not quite up to scratch but still worth a look-see despite the non-appearance of Mel Gibson.

I wasn’t even a twinkle my dad’s eye when Mad Max was released in 1979. Before Braveheart and anti-Semitic rants, it was one of the things Mel Gibson was most famous for. All these years later it’s impressive to see visionary filmmaker George Miller still individually responsible for the ever-expanding world of Mad Max.

In 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road was my first introduction to Miller’s iconic desert wasteland. It was a heart-pulsing masterpiece from start to finish with incredible cinematography, a gorgeous score and pacing that made me feel like my popcorn was spiked with pure adrenaline. It was always going to be inevitable that his follow-up, prequel Furiosa, would be directly compared to what many would argue is his most perfect film to date and although Furiosa suffers from being in the incredibly daunting shadow of its predecessor, it’s still a solid entry into Miller’s universe and an enjoyable enough stand-alone film.

Set years before Fury Road, Furiosa follows the life of its namesake as she is kidnapped as a young girl before eventually growing up slightly to become actress Anya Taylor-Joy, who would then go on to eventually become actress Charlize Theron. All jokes aside, Taylor-Joy is fantastic as Furiosa, who like Tom Hardy’s Max says an awful lot without saying much at all. She has an incredible intensity about her that makes her suffering peek out of every sideways glance, her lust for revenge screams through her silence and is just generally an exceptional badass.

Dr Dementus, the villain of the piece, is played by Chris Hemsworth who is clearly having an especially fun time and is equipped with his most Australian of Australian accents. I know a lot of people have been praising Hemsworth’s unhinged performance, but I personally feel like more could have been done with the character both in terms of writing and delivery. It’s hard not to enjoy his performance purely because of how much fun Hemsworth is having, but I never really felt that Furiosa was in any real trouble, partly because I’ve seen the sequel, but also because he never seemed to truly provide a realistic threat. He has a clear insanity about him and a lust to be respected and taken more seriously than his behaviour would ever warrant, but he just wasn’t a match for Furiosa, and as such the stakes never felt truly high enough for me to get excited about. When the lead character’s fate is known, you still want to be surprised by their journey.

As is par for the course when it comes to Miller’s work, the stunt and action sequences are truly fantastic. As with Fury Road, the best action is done on wheels and there are some seriously exciting set pieces that are gorgeously shot and very, very entertaining. DOP Simon Duggan does a good job at taking over from John Seale (although Seales’s work is very, very hard to match) and Tom Holkenborg returns to the wasteland with another ripper soundtrack.

Unfortunately, though, the overall pacing drags slightly, especially in the first half of the film, and the choice to follow an episodic structure, complete with title cards, means that the wheels take too long to get going, and then slow down all too quickly and two-and-a-half hours feels too long for what the movie actually achieves in terms of both action and narrative.

Overall, Furiosa is a good film. Fans of the series will no doubt see this as another solid entry. However, it suffers from not being anywhere near as fast-paced and exciting as its predecessor, it never quite raises the stakes enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, and whilst Taylor-Joy is incredible as Furiosa, it made me just want to rewatch Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron on the kickass Fury Road.

+ Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is screening at picture theatres across the country as we speak.

Ashton Brown is Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

Ashton Brown is a freelance reviewer, writer, actor and director. You may have seen him on some ads (he's the big hairy guy) or at the NZ Comedy Festival. He's Witchdoctor's craft beer writer and film reviewer, and a self-professed geek, horror fanatic and post-rock enthusiast.

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