'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' review: Brilliant prequel that pulls hope from chaos


We know her name is Furiosa and she's burning with anger, but this is a bit on the nose, George. — Photos: Warner Bros Malaysia

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Director: George Miller
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Lachy Hulme, Alyla Browne,

Australian filmmaker George Miller has been shaping our vision of a post-apocalyptic future for the past 45 years, since his Mad Max roared onto screens in 1979.

His 2015 installment Mad Max: Fury Road could be one of the best films of the 21st century, a dusty, fuel-injected chase across the desert that synthesises everything wrong with a toxic patriarchy in which an elite ruling class hoards resources while exploiting the bodies of women and young men, dehumanising the poor.

Max (Tom Hardy) may have received top billing, but the breakout character of the Oscar-winning Fury Road was Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a grizzled war rig driver who shows up with one arm, a thousand-yard stare, and an impressive military title: “Imperator”. Furiosa’s history was alluded to but not fully explored in the lean, mean Fury Road, but her rich backstory now makes up Miller’s prequel, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

That's not what they mean when you call shotgun, Anya.That's not what they mean when you call shotgun, Anya.

This is another sprawling-tale of gas-guzzling automotive-based mayhem, where warring tribes in the desert Wasteland worship at the altars of cars and motorcycles and spill blood over gas and bullets. But Furiosa is a bigger movie than Fury Road, taking place over the course of many years, not just a couple of days.

If Fury Road was a snapshot that suggested a whole world of lore, Furiosa is an epic poem, with Miller and co-writer Nico Lauthouris structuring this saga into chapters.

Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) remains an antagonist, ruling the Citadel with his horde of slavishly devoted War Boys, keeping a harem of breeder wives, but Furiosa’s true enemy is Dementus (a prosthetically enhanced Chris Hemsworth), a bonkers biker who roams the Wasteland with a nomadic tribe of followers.

After the critical failure of his last solo film, Thor decided to live a hermit's life in the desert.After the critical failure of his last solo film, Thor decided to live a hermit's life in the desert.

Immortan Joe is control, and Dementus is chaos, careering around the Wasteland in his motorcycle chariot, enforcing his power with torture and violence.

He is uncharacteristically vocal for this world, using a microphone to speechify to his followers, a few of whom have snatched a young Furiosa (Alyla Browne) from her idyllic matriarchal home, the Green Place.

In a stunning extended opening, Furiosa’s mother (Charlee Fraser) tracks the kidnappers across the desert on motorcycle, in a desperate bid to get her daughter back, and to protect the Green Place from exposure to these warlords.

Good luck trying to recreate these vehicles for kids, Hot Wheels.Good luck trying to recreate these vehicles for kids, Hot Wheels.

As we knew she would, young Furiosa ends up at the Citadel, traded away in a deal Dementus makes with Immortan Joe for control of Gastown.

Marked for duty as a future breeder wife, scrappy Furiosa remains determined to survive and escape. She conceals her gender and as she she gets older (now played by Anya Taylor-Joy) she finds her place as a black thumb mechanic, brooding over revenge, concealing a peach pit as a symbol of hope for her future.

Hope is a funny thing, the most limited resource in the Wasteland. Furiosa finds a scrap of it in Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), who teaches her the art of the war rig, but time and again, her hope is snatched away by Dementus, whose chaos infects the Wasteland, his bikes kicking up dust like a swirling sandstorm that will never die down.

The 'BJ And The Bear' remake was not as wholesome as the original series.The 'BJ And The Bear' remake was not as wholesome as the original series.

Taylor-Joy has a challenging task stepping into Theron’s shoes, inhabiting such a taciturn character whose emotional battles are largely internal. While Theron was haunted and sorrowful, Taylor-Joy is steely and silent, juxtaposed against the florid, flamboyant Dementus, an outsize role and performance that is easily the best that Hemsworth has ever delivered.

With so many more characters, motivations and motorized vehicles to track, Furiosa loses some of the pure clarity of visual storytelling that distinguishes the other Mad Max films, though the story beats ring clear in the broad strokes.

These characters seek power and revenge, but they battle each other out of grief, a mourning for the lives they’ve lost in the apocalypse. Furiosa’s anguish is the same as Dementus’, they just express it differently, with Dementus seeking abandon while Furiosa plots.

Oh no, there's a truck coming, Faster gostan!Oh no, there's a truck coming, Faster gostan!

In these landscapes of rusty orange daytimes and silver-tone nighttimes, you can almost smell the gunpowder and chrome, the images punctuated by the most beautifully choreographed violence.

The stunts are a thing of breathtaking wonder, atop cars, bikes, hang gliders, monster trucks and more. It’s not as much nonstop action as Fury Road, but it is just as impressively executed, and the editing by Miller’s Oscar-winning wife Margaret Sixel and Eliot Knapman is crystal-clear and logically paced.

It’s simply a joy to return to this world of big screen spectacle Miller has carefully crafted over almost half a century of filmmaking: flame-thrown and custom-built.

If Fury Road is the tale of liberation, Furiosa is how she got there, and our heroine’s story is absolutely worth witnessing. Through these characters, Miller allows us to ponder the end of the world, the impossible cruelty, and how we might treat each other during the downfall and beyond. – Tribune News Service

9 10


This heroine’s story is absolutely worth witnessing

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