Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa in 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga'
(Warner Bros.)

Review: ‘Furiosa’ Is a Smoke-Belching, Blood-Soaked Thrill Ride

4/5 war rigs

Furiosa, first played by Charlize Theron in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, is one of the best characters to ever come out of the Mad Max franchise. But does her new solo outing, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, do her justice?

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Lady and gentlemans, I bring you good news.

Furiosa starts off with a foundational event in Furiosa’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) story: she’s kidnapped from her home in the Green Place of Many Mothers. From the start, Furiosa—played in the film’s first act by the young Alyla Browne—is the warrior we first met in Fury Road. She’s cunning, brave, and selfless, with an iron will and a glare that could melt steel. Young Furiosa’s story focuses on the heart-wrenching fallout of her abduction, as she learns to survive in the brutal world of warlords and marauding gangs.

Thanks to George Miller’s passion for creating some of the weirdest characters in cinema, those gangs and warlords are unforgettable. Furiosa is first captured by Dementus, played by an almost unrecognizable Chris Hemsworth in what might be his most ambitious role yet. Dementus is equal parts silly and sadistic, spouting malapropisms as he casually tortures his enemies to death, but his ego turns out to be bigger than his biker gang when he decides to take on the formidable Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme). The ensuing war between Joe and Dementus forms the backbone of the movie, with the two villains launching raids and attacks at each others’ strongholds. Meanwhile, Furiosa grows up, embroiled in the chaos and silently plotting her escape.

Part of what made Fury Road so great were its unexpected pockets of tenderness, and Furiosa also has heart. Furiosa’s mother (Charlee Fraser) is a standout character—at least, while she lasts. As Furiosa herself grows up in the Wasteland, she forges a bond with the surprisingly gentle Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), the driver of Immortan Joe’s war rig. Furiosa and Jack’s grease-spattered romance is genuinely moving, even as Mad Max fans are uncomfortably aware that Jack is nowhere to be found in Fury Road.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Mad Max flick without some absolutely bonkers road battles, and Furiosa delivers. In one scene, Joe’s war rig gets attacked by raiders. Standard Mad Max fare, right? That’s why you travel with a full coterie of war dogs. I can’t say much about this scene without spoiling what makes it so great, but suffice it to say that every time you think you’ve seen the wildest stunt the sequence has to offer, something even more gloriously ridiculous comes along. At one point, the next phase of the battle announces itself with a new bizarro thingy in the deep background of a shot, gradually approaching the rig behind all the explosions and flying bodies happening in the foreground. The sense of anticipation it creates is fiendishly delicious. This scene just rocks.

That scene highlights the magic of Mad Max: all the roaring vehicles and cruel weapons and smoke-belching fortresses are awful and horrifying and also the coolest things you’ve ever seen, and that weird mix of revulsion and childish glee is what makes these movies so much fun.

My one criticism of Furiosa is that its story isn’t quite as tight as Fury Road. With a runtime of about two and a half hours, Furiosa does drag a bit sometimes—after all, instead of a breathless few days, it covers a timespan of several years. Joe and Dementus’ war starts to feel a bit stale by the end, although it’s interesting to see the toll it takes on Dementus.

Still, that’s a minor concern. Overall, Furiosa serves up all the best parts of the Mad Max saga: it’s a thrilling vision of an apocalyptic future you’d never want to actually live in, populated by people with real human hearts under all that armor. At its center is a heroine everyone can root for.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga crashes into theaters on May 24.


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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>