Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga – Dir: George Miller (Film Review)

It’s a tall order to follow Mad Max: Fury Road, one of the most celebrated films of the 21st century. Yet, George Miller, the mad genius behind the Mad Max franchise and family film favourites Babe and Happy Feet, has dared to dream bigger. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga may not be as lean as Mad Max: Fury Road. Miller oversaturates this sequel with epic world-building, but Chris Hemsworth unleashed as Dementus, the crazed villain with a prosthetic nose, is delightfully deranged.

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anya Taylor-Joy, Alyla Browne, Charlee Fraser, Tom Burke

Hemsworth is riotous, and Anya Taylor-Joy is impressive as the titular character. The film begins with young Furiosa, played by Alyla Browne, a remarkable piece of casting. Taylor-Joy and Browne are uncannily alike, as if the two were grown in a lab and genetically modified to be a mirror image of each other. Young Furiosa is ripped from the Green Place of Many Mothers, a desert oasis, by one of Demenentus’s henchmen, and her mother, Mary Jo Bassa, portrayed by rising star Charlee Fraser, sets off in hot pursuit.

With chapter headings, several locations, and time periods, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga tells the origin story of Furisoa as if she had already become a mythological being. Taylor-Joy doesn’t appear for the first hour or so, with this opening act focusing on how adult Furisoa is influenced by childhood trauma and loss. One can imagine Miller, who started this franchise on a micro-budget, giddy with excitement. With a major Hollywood studio’s backing, he can flesh out his gasoline-fueled vision of the Australian outback. À la George Lucas, in daring to dream bigger, Miller stumbles over their own feet, often sidelining the astonishing action scenes for a meandering episodic plot.

Furisoa’s relationship with renowned rig driver Praetorian Jack, played by Tom Burke, is underbaked. It ends as soon as it begins. Moreover, the mythos of Immortan Joe is undone. The all-time great film villain is the demented leader of a mad sect of suicidal fanatics, and the film oddly chooses to soften his evil. I didn’t leave Mad Max: Fury Road wanting the lore behind this world and its inhabitants. To expect more of the same would be naive. This is the George Miller who brought us Tina Turner in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a downshift from Mad Max: Fury Road, but it’s not trying to be the same film. Miller has given in to his fantasies, spinning an operatic web of steel and sand. Thankfully, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Thomas Giblin

In Cinemas now