Furiosa A Mad Max Saga review: Anya Taylor-Joy drives this episodic origin story forward, but expect no Fury Road | Hollywood

George Miller infused a visceral intensity into the full-throttle action spectacle that was Mad Max: Fury Road when he decided to return to the post-apocalyptic universe that began in 1981. More than justifying the choices for reviving the series, Miller also gave us an action heroine for the ages in the form of Charlize Theron’s Furiosa. She was the one driving the action forward, quite literally. Nine years have passed, and Miller has come up with the back story that started her journey. Miller wants to say how, and in a formally ambitious fashion- how else. This is Miller still eager to take chances, and fire with all guns blazing. It doesn’t land always, but when it does, Miller still reminds us of the exhilarating power of his vision. (Also read: Cannes 2024: Chris Hemsworth-starrer Furiosa A Mad Max Saga gets 7-minute standing ovation)

Anya Taylor-Joy in a still from Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Anya Taylor-Joy in a still from Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

Furiosa’s journey takes the viewer back to Green Place, where we are only given a glimpse of the place where she was raised by a community of women called the Vuvalini of Many Mothers. Played by a superb Alyla Browne, she is just a young girl when she is abducted by a biker gang belonging to Dementus, played by Chris Hemsworth. With a fake nose and a big unkempt beard, he is cartoonish in his savagery. Revenge is a word cast early on young Furiosa, as she is tossed and held captive, and ultimately traded to the masked warlord Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme).

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Furiosa grows up in this hellish landscape, now taken over by The Queen’s Gambit actor Anya Taylor-Joy. With her ocean-blue eyes glowing against the black oil smeared all over her forehead, the actor molds the seething rage within Furiosa to thrilling effect. It is this rage that does most of the heavy lifting here, as the script co-written by George Miller and Nico Lathouris, is still not able to provide much of a dimension to her after all. Furiosa is hardly given any words, and in more ways than one, often a sidekick for the majority here. Even in the film’s most dazzling action set piece- a circus-level carnage of fire and scale on a moving truck, edited brilliantly by Margaret Sixel and Eliot Knapman- Furiosa is almost entirely under the vehicle. The one in the driving seat is his unlikely companion in the form of Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke in fine form).

The issue with Furiosa is that even though Miller charges the narrative with a rigorous desire to know about the origin story of his unlikely heroine, we only remain a witness to her passive reactions. We watch her watch the feud that emerges between Dementus and Immortan Joe over gasoline. We watch her take charge of her destiny, but at what cost? Her connection with the women who are passed as sex slaves, which formed a gripping subtext in Mad Max, is completely missing here. Even as Furiosa gets a back story, where is the fable she once grew up in? Furiosa’s loss of innocence is a crucial factor, but that impulse itself gets tangled within the larger framework of this episodic narrative.

The anticipation and the breathtaking momentum that made Fury Road so extraordinary is ultimately missing here. Miller’s world-building is more interested in micro-aggressions that ultimately exhaust, and more importantly, do not land the claim Furiosa makes in the ultimate face-off with Dementus. We were there with Furiosa all this while, clinging on to her in her worst moments, yet why didn’t we anticipate this question she placed in front of him? Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga works as long as it sees a clear road ahead from the top of the desert, but loses focus when it decides to listen to the thunderous beats of the vehicle it built in the first place. Furiosa contradicts and dazzles, infuriates, and sets the screen on fire. It is still a welcome thrill to witness the director taking risks, and asking, ‘Shall we see, where the road ends?’

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