furiosa-a-mad-max-saga-anya-taylor-joy-and-tom-burke

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Review: The Audacious Prequel This Series Deserves

Successful directors earn a living making films. But master filmmakers live to make movies.

The greatest directors throw common sense to the wind while pursuing their uncompromising visions. They commit years of their lives to passion projects, risking their reputations and even financial ruin, all in the name of making their dream movie a reality.

All too often, these massive gambles don’t pay off. These ambitious projects have a way of getting tangled up in production hell. Or, even worse, they’re met with indifference when they finally reach theatres.

But on rare occasions, one of these big swings pays off. And in these instances, a filmmaker’s talent, ambition, and artistry coalesce into a cinematic masterpiece.

Advertisements

Mad Max: Fury Road is one such modern marvel, a once-in-a-generation cinematic treasure beloved by genre movie buffs and arthouse snobs alike. It’s a perfect action movie and the crown jewel in director George Miller’s lauded career.

The issue with crafting a masterpiece is figuring out how to follow it up. What incentive does Miller have to return to the world of Mad Max when he’s already reached the cinematic mountaintop? Fortunately, visionaries like Miller don’t waste time ruminating over what they can’t do. And now, with Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Miller returns to the post-apocalypse hellbent on delivering the Fury Road prequel of his dreams, and thankfully, we all get to go along for the ride.

Furiosa takes place in a bleak future where society has collapsed and an environmental catastrophe has transformed most of the planet into a barren wasteland. Staying alive requires Wastelanders to hunt down food and clean water while avoiding bloodthirsty gangs.

Hidden amidst the desert sits a verdant oasis known as the Green Place of Many Mothers. It’s one of the final vestiges of the old world; a place of abundant resources where survivors don’t have to worry about cannibals trying to eat them and wear their bones as battle armour.

Advertisements

The story kicks into gear when a crew of bikers stumble upon the Green Place. They kidnap a young child named Furiosa (Alyla Browne) and haul her back to their leader, the biker warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), who schemes to return to the Green Place and take it over.

In a bit of political chess, Dementus offers Furiosa to the infamous tyrant Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), who brings the child back to his impenetrable fortress, the Citadel, to become one of his future wives. However, Furiosa escapes and disguises herself as a mute War Boy while remaining in the Citadel, hiding in plain sight. 

Flash forward a decade and Furiosa (now played by Anya Taylor-Joy) earns her keep as a mechanic while she waits for the right moment to break out of the Citadel. During a life-and-death escape attempt, Furiosa bonds with the War Rig driver Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke) who teaches her what it takes to survive in the Wasteland. Praetorian Jack takes Furiosa under his wing while she hones her skills as a killing machine. Before she can finally make a break for the Green Place, Furiosa and Praetorian Jack find themselves caught in the middle of a brutal feud between Dementus and Immortan Joe. 

The big question here is how does Furiosa stack up against Fury Road? I won’t argue that Furiosa is the superior movie, but if someone told me they preferred it over Fury Road, I would understand why.

Advertisements

These two titles very much feel of-a-piece, in terms of style, tone, and execution. And plot-wise, events in Furiosa seamlessly cross over into the begining of Fury Road. Most film prequels come off as intellectual property bloat tacked on to a franchise to wring more cash out of moviegoers’ wallets (hello Solo), but this film feels like a natural extension of Fury Road, that only enhances my enjoyment of the series. 

Whereas Fury Road is a lean, mean chase movie, emphasizing action over dialogue, Furiosa has greater ambitions. It’s still a hyper-violent action epic featuring a brooding protagonist, but now there is more emphasis on politics and worldbuilding. Mad Max movies were always heavily influenced by Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone’s films but this title feels equally inspired by Game of Thrones.

Furiosa features more ambitious action sequences than Fury Road, but there’s one major caveat: this film uses a lot more digital effects. Many of Fury Road’s most impressive stunts were captured in-camera by flipping and crashing actual cars. This choice lends the high-octane carnage a grittiness and sense of weight that even the best CGI can’t replicate. 

Miller still opts to physically stage much of the action here, but there’s a heavier reliance on digital effects this time out. This trade-off allows Miller to up the ante on the film’s vehicular carnage, even if these shots at times don’t pack the same visceral punch.

Advertisements

In the world of Mad Max, an act of kindness will kill you faster than a bullet. And beneath the bravura filmmaking, Miller explores what it means to live a life of meaning in a world gone mad. 

Furiosa’s revenge-fuelled journey forces her to confront the profound difference between living and surviving. Every mutant cannibal pillaging their way across the Wasteland is a survivor. But to truly live means to hold onto hope and the notion that there are still things in the world worth surviving for. This gradual realization transforms Furiosa from a nihilistic killing machine to Fury Road’s selfless heroine. 

Miller doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel in this prequel. Instead, he takes all the elements fans already love about the series and cranks them up to eleven. There are bigger and bolder characters, more expansive world-building, and some of the most creative action sequences since John Wick: Chapter 4

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga delivers action filmmaking of the highest order. It’s a pedal-to-the-metal thrill ride featuring a dazzling Taylor-Joy performance. After a nine-year wait between films, Furiosa arrives in theatres facing high expectations. It may not be another action movie for the ages, but it is without a doubt the action movie of the summer.

Advertisements



Comments

Advertisement



Advertisement


Advertisement