‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ movie review: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth bring Miller’s manic vision to life


Furiosa Anya Taylor Joy

Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’

It’s ridiculous to think that George Miller made his debut in 1979 with the first Mad Max (starring Mel Gibson), and that 45 years later, he is still obsessed enough with his own ingenious invention to be swimming in its high tide.

In 2015, Miller rebooted the franchise with Mad Max: Fury Road, arguably the greatest action film of the last decade, thanks to a spectacular turn from Charlize Theron as Furiosa. Now, the ageless filmmaker brings us an origin story to his one-armed badass female lead with an absolutely rollicking epic that also serves as a glorious companion piece; surely Miller needs to find a way to splice together Furiosa and Fury Road into a six-hour double feature at some point?

A still from ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’

A still from ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’

Much is different from last time around, and yet, both films are inseparably linked, as we enter Australia’s post-apocalyptic wastelands again to finally understand what Theron’s Furiosa meant when she said that her “mother died on the third day.” Fury Road took place over the course of a few days — a relentless, souped-up action fest with singular focus, while Furiosa spans 15 years, divided into five intense episodes and giving us time to breathe in between.

We first meet our titular heroine as a 10-year-old (Alyla Browne) at the Green Place of Many Mothers — a rare oasis in the dystopian, violent universe the Mad Max films are set in — from where she’s kidnapped by the fearsome warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) and his hoard of creepy bikers. Over the next few years, Furiousa has to equip herself with every skill possible to survive the madhouse as she soon encounters the Citadel and Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) and passes into their service; about an hour in, Browne makes way for Anya Taylor-Joy during an astonishing full-throttle set-piece as she comes of age as a warrior. 

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (English)

Director: George Miller
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Alyla Browne, Charlee Fraser, Lachy Hulme, Goran D. Kleut
Run-time: 148 minutes
Storyline: As the two tyrants, warlord Dementus and Immortan Joe, fight for dominance, a young Furiosa finds herself in a non-stop battle to make her way home

Caught in this battle between both her feuding masters, she finds an unlikely ally in Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), the head of the war rig, who sympathises with her and the two strike up an almost-friendship/romance (?) that is unfortunately short-lived, but still gives the movie some much-needed heart amidst all the burning rubber and carnage around. From there on, it’s a non-stop thrill ride to Furiosa’s eventual showdown with Dementus, which, of course, sets into motion the events of Fury Road.

There’s minimal dialogue, but the phenomenal Taylor-Joy’s endlessly immersive eyes — standing out against her oil-darkened forehead — do most of the talking, conveying Furiosa’s deep-seated emotions furiously. There will be plenty written about the extreme close-ups of her expressive face, but Taylor-Joy also rises up magnificently to the many physical challenges asked of her, her lithe frame doing as much of the heavy lifting as her eyes.

A still from ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’

A still from ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’

But as arresting as Taylor-Joy is, she is upstaged by Hemsworth, in what is surely a career-best for the MCU superstar. Cast against type, he is irresistibly charismatic and hilarious, taking to his mad despot avatar with total aplomb and venomous swagger (shades of his underrated turn in Bad Times At The El Royale pop out). Armed with a strange prosthetic nose and distinct accent, Hemsworth playing the dastardly Dementus — complete with tragic backstory — astride his royal chariot, and steals the show every scene he is in, ending up as one of the great movie villains of our times.

On that note, Miller hits it out of the park with the rest of the casting choices too, be it the brilliant Burke as Praetorian Jack, an extraordinary Browne as the younger Furiosa or the bevy of other colourful supporting characters who inhabit his manic world. Not to mention a series of crazy high-octane fights, mind-boggling stunts and visual effects that must be seen to be believed; a three-day frantic chase across the desert is my pick of the lot.

So, how does someone follow the greatest action movie of the decade?

This is how.

Oh, what a day. What a lovely day.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is currently running in theatres



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