Review: ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,’ starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth

May 21, 2024

by Carla Hay

Anya Taylor-Joy, Tom Burke and Chris Hemsworth in “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” (Photo by Jasin Boland/Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga”

Directed by George Miller

Culture Representation: Taking place somewhere on a post-apocalyptic Earth, the sci-fi/action film “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” (a prequel to 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road”) features a cast of predominanly white characters (with a few black people and Asians) who are survivors of an apocalypse.

Culture Clash: Furiosa grows up from being an orphaned child to being a fierce warrior battling two major villains. 

Culture Audience: “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the “Mad Max” franchise, the movie’s headliners, and sci-fi action films that have stunning fight scenes and fascinating characters.

Tom Burke and Anya Taylor-Joy (seated in front) in “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” (Photo by Jasin Boland/Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” takes entirely too much time (about an hour) on warrior heroine Furiosa’s childhood. But once Furiosa becomes an adult, the movie kicks into a high-gear action spectacle that’s worth the wait. The dark comedic moments are a treat. This is not a movie for people who are expecting deeply intelligent dialogue. However, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” (which clocks in at 148 minutes) satisfactorily delivers if viewers expect to be fully immersed in a chaotic, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world with unusual characters and brutal battles in the desert.

Directed by George Miller, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” (which had its world premiere at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival) was co-written by Miller and Nick Lathouris. The movie is a prequel to 2015’s Oscar-winning “Mad Max: Fury Road,” starring Tom Hardy as road warrior Mad Max and Charlize Theron as Mad Max colleague Furiosa. “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” takes place over a 16-year period before the events of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Miller directed the other previously released films in the “Mad Max” series: 1979’s “Mad Max,” 1981’s “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” (originally titled “The Road Warrior”) and 1985’s “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” all starring Mel Gibson as Mad Max. (“Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” was co-directed by George Ogilvie.)

The “Mad Max” stories take place in a futuristic time period in desert wasteland on a post-apocalyptic Earth. (The movies are actually filmed in Australia.) In this “Mas Max” world, life resources are scarce and society has devolved into anarchy where survivors fight over precious resources, and gangs are at war with each other.

Many of the gang members are held in captivity and forced to fight. They have shaved heads and are often covered head-to-toe with an ashy white substance. They have names such as Rictus Erectus (played by Nathan Jones), Scrotus (played by Josh Helman), Toe Jam (played by David Field) and Vulture (played by Ra Roman), but their personalities do not stand out enough for them to get any story arcs or backstories.

In “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” a young Furiosa (played by Alyla Browne) is 10 years old when a motorcycle gang kidnaps her from the Green Place of Many Mothers, a maternal community where women help raise each other’s children. Furiosa’s mother Mary Jabassa (played by Charlee Fraser) and the Green Place’s Vuvaline General (played by Elsa Pataky) frantically look for Furiosa. Mary doesn’t give up looking for Furiosa, and Mary’s fate is shown in the movie.

Furiosa is raised as an orphan by the motorcycle gang leader’s Dr. Dementus (played by Chris Hemsworth), until underage Furiosa (who is mostly mute for most of her screen time) runs away and disguises herself as a boy. Dr. Dementus is in a violent power struggle with Immortan Joe (played by Lachy Hulme), a crime overlord who wears a gas mask. The adult Furiosa (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), at 26 years old, teams up with Praetorian Jack (played by Tom Burke), a former driver of Immortan Joe’s War Rig, to find her way back home.

Of course, Furiosa and Praetorian Jack get caught in the middle of the villainous warfare and fight back in self-defense and revenge. Along the way, Furiosa and Praetorian Jack become close and develop a romantic connection. As time goes one, Furiosa becomes more talkative, but she’s still mainly a stoic character. Taylor-Joy’s expressive eyes and sturdy acting give Furiosa enough charisma to keep viewers interested. Burke also turns in a good performance as Praetorian Jack.

The action scenes and some of the weapons are inventive overall, but there are times when the violence in “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” become mind-numbing and repetitive. On a technical level, the movie’s production design and visual effects are the biggest assets.

Hemsworth’s portrayal of Dementus (who at times looks like a muscular and younger Rob Zombie) is a highlight. It’s a combination of menacing with some cheeky campiness. A running gag in the movie is Dementus’ attachment to a teddy bear that used to belong to Dementus’ dead son.

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” suffers from a bloated run time where viewers might start to feel a little cheated that adult Furiosa doesn’t make an appearance until an hour after the movie starts. (The movie’s trailers are definitely misleading, because they make it look like adult Furiosa will be in almost all of the movie.) The scenes with underage Furiosa are competently acted but mostly boring and not very informative. Despite this flaw, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is a fan-pleasing movie overall in the “Mad Max” franchise, even though the movie is not the most innovative in the series.

Warner Bros. Pictures will release “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” on May 24, 2024.

Copyright 2017-2024 Culture Mix