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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Review

“There will always be war but to get home, Furiosa fought the world.”

Almost ten years on from the release of Oscar-winning epic Mad Max: Fury Road, comes the highly anticipated origin of steely warrior and war rig wrangler, Imperator Furiosa. The sprawling fifth film set in the post apocalyptic Mad Max universe is undoubtedly born to fulfil the current franchise boom, however, there’s no denying that this dystopian prequel is an incredibly ambitious odyssey and potentially George Miller’s magnum opus. Final act aside, the prequel often disappointingly distils the legend of Furiosa into a vehicle to further flesh out the Wasteland and the warring tyrannical overlords, at times relegating its heroine to a supporting character in her own film. 

Charting Furiosa’s formative years, the prequel unravels across an epic 15-year trajectory, delving into the warrior’s journey of retribution and vengeance. Abducted from the safety of the Green Place by a gaggle of Dementus’ (Chris Hemsworth) motorbike goons, the young Furiosa (Alyla Browne) soon becomes the prized captive of the chariot-riding tyrant, before playing an integral part in the ongoing conflict between Immortan Joe (Lacey Hulme) and his War Boys and Dementus and his biker gang.

Fans looking for a spiritual successor to Fury Road will need to wait a little longer for sequel Mad Max: The Wasteland, as this prequel is a much different beast. Unlike the non-stop action and straightforward plot of the fourth Mad Max instalment, Furiosa is an ambitious and expansive odyssey unfolding over a five act structure (bookmarked by pretentious chapter titles such as ‘The Pole Of Inaccessibility’). While the franchises’ signature elements are certainly present – the Wasteland setting, wacky characters and plenty of vehicular action – Furiosa’s slow-burn tale of revenge resembles more of a fable or legend than an all out action flick due to the intriguing but potentially unreliable narration of The History Man (George Shevtsov). 

There’s no doubting the incredible world-building & spectacle of the prequel, with Miller deepening the intriguing mythos of the franchise, finally bringing locations such as the Green Place, Gas Town and the Bullet Farm to the screen. But by further fleshing out the lore, along with gradually intensifying the central conflict between Immortan Joe and Dementus amongst the bloated 148 minute runtime, Furiosa’s odyssey unfortunately often takes a backseat – particularly in the budding but all too quickly dropped romance with war rig champ, Praetorian Jack (a sadly underutilised Tom Burke). Furthermore, despite Hemsworth clearly having the time of his life as the unhinged desert pirate, Furiosa is relentlessly bleak, often disturbing (with cruel torture scenes) and disappointingly sans flame-throwing guitarist, The Doof Warrior. 

Both Ayla Browne and Anya Taylor-Joy really do shine as the fearsome titular warrior, with Taylor-Joy impressively replicating Charlize Theron’s speech pattern and mannerisms. With a forehead smeared in engine oil, she channels her burning fury and rage predominantly through piercing stares and cold and calculated moves. With sparse dialogue throughout, Taylor-Joy has a lot of heavy lifting to do, but more than pulls it off. Charlee Fraser is also a standout as Furiosa’s deadly and determined mother, Mary Jo Bassa, excelling in the extended opening chase sequence. There’s also the return of some familiar faces, along with wacky new additions including Scrotus, Toe Jam and The Octoboss. 

While it’s not quite on the same level as the balls-to-the-wall, high-octane action of its predecessor, the sheer size, scale and creativeness of the action sequences certainly tops most recent Hollywood blockbusters, particularly in the thrilling extended war rig ambush and attack. The brutal climax of the oil and blood smeared ‘40 Day Wasteland War’ is also an ambitious feat, with the conflict over resources and power proving a timely warning of our own fate. However, there are some scenes where there’s very obvious overly digitised extensions of the Wasteland and its inhabitants, which stand out against the impressive practical vehicles and backdrops.


There’s no doubting the incredible world-building and exhilarating spectacle of Furiosa, along with the ambitious nature of unpacking the truth behind a myth via storytelling, however the lengthy runtime is far too bloated, often feeling more style over substance.