© Warner Bros. Pictures

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga review – A full-throttled return to George Miller’s wasteland

Directed by George Miller. The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth & Tom Burke.

The Mad Max franchise, which launched in 1979, has gone from strength to strength, depicting the fight for survival in Australia’s post-apocalyptic wasteland. The long-dormant franchise was given a jolt of ferocious energy with 2015’s Fury Road, which rejuvenated the franchise for a new audience and is regarded as one of the best action films in recent times. George Miller created a gorgeous visual thrill ride out of the nightmarish hellscape. One of the standout parts of that film was Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa; now, close to a decade on, we get the long-promised next instalment, Furiosa, which depicts a younger Furiosa before she became Imperator.

While this film doesn’t focus on Tom Hardy’s Max, it contains the singular blend of madness and action defined by the franchise. At 2hrs 29, it is far and away the longest entry in the series, telling the most layered story as we chart Furiosa from her childhood, snatched from her by Chris Hemsworth’s Dementus. We follow her as she becomes a fierce warrior hell-bent on revenge, played in adulthood by Anya Taylor Joy.

Hemsworth’s Dementus is one of the franchise’s strongest characters, carried by his commitment to bringing his insanity to life. There are shades of Heath Ledger’s Joker, Dementus is destructive and chaotic, quipping his way through the wasteland, destructive and hilarious in equal measure. This couldn’t be further from the Hemsworth of the Thor films and shows his range, bringing the madness required of this franchise, in truth when Hemsworth isn’t on screen the film can at times struggle tonally. Taylor Joy comes into the film relatively late on but is fully believable as an earlier version of Theron’s Furiosa, bringing the physicality and mood, with a relatively light amount of dialogue much of her acting is done through her movements and she captures Furiosa’s obsessive drive to avenge her childhood and mother.

Perhaps the biggest issue for Furiosa to overcome is that it comes after the most celebrated entry in the franchise. Fury Road felt like such a one-off event; cleverly, George Miller’s emphasis on the story rather than trying the same thing again helps it stand out. From an action standpoint, the kinetic thrills remain intact, but there is a sense that this doesn’t quite get to Fury Road’s level, even if at its best, it puts most blockbusters to shame with Miller showing his distinctive vision, an action sequence involving an oil tanker is one of the standout sequences.

Furiosa is another thrill ride from George Miller. If, at times, it falls into prequel pitfalls and is not quite as fresh as Fury Road, there is plenty to admire, from its lead performances to the visuals of the wasteland. It will be interesting to see how Miller follows this, proving in the twilight of his career that he is more than capable of matching and surpassing directors half his age. Whether or not this is the last ride into the wasteland, it is one of the franchise’s stronger entries.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga review – A full-throttled return to George Miller’s wasteland

Welcome to the Cinematique. We talk film, TV series and more.