Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024) Review

Writer’s note: The second paragraph of this article (just below the first image) contains a basic outline of the film’s premise. There are no spoilers that weren’t already inferred in the film’s own trailer. However, if you want to completely avoid potential spoilers, skip over the second paragraph.

Very few films reach the status of ‘masterpiece’ right out of the gate, and even fewer films hold onto that reputation in the long term. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is one of those few, immediately being hailed as a classic and widely called one of the greatest films ever made. The jaw-dropping action, gripping direction, propulsive energy, and surprisingly emotional storytelling all came together into a wholly unique and groundbreaking experience. So this begs the question: is it possible for any follow up film to live up to that? Thus, Director George Miller’s prequel, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024), has quite the mountain to climb. 

Chris Hemsworth as Dementus.

Many years after the collapse of civilisation, Australia is now a deserted, radioactive wasteland. Only a few areas remain with any water or agriculture, one of which being The Green Place of Many Mothers. Here we meet a young Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy), many years before her time as the heroic warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road. Furiosa’s fruitful childhood is cut short when a gang of rogue bikers kidnap her and take her to their leader Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), who wants nothing more than to achieve total dominance of the wasteland. In an attempt to rescue her, Furiosa’s mother, Mary Jabassa (Charlee Fraser), is murdered by Dementus. As such, Furiosa must learn to survive in this lawless land, while never forgetting her mission to avenge her mother, and return home. 

Most long running film franchises bend over backwards to maintain a strict continuity, but the Mad Max series is not a typical franchise. Despite the intense grit and hard-hitting action, Miller has always told these stories with a mythic tone, portraying them as fables to be told around a campfire. Max was always described by the narration and characters as a hero in folklore, and Miller has dialled that up to 11 with Furiosa. While being the only film in the series which lines up its events with the previous entry, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is filled with allusions to Greek, Roman, Norse, and Chinese legends, making it abundantly clear that these are mythic stories passed down through generations. 

Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa.

There are of course plenty of action sequences, all of which deliver the exciting car wrecks and shootouts we want from a Mad Max film. Even at nearly 80 years old, Miller directs these sequences with more excitement than most younger filmmakers. However, there’s an overabundance of computer generated effects, which is a little too noticeable throughout. Contrary to popular belief, a large amount of CGI was used in Mad Max: Fury Road, but it was used to seamlessly stitch all of the incredible in-camera stunt work and effects together. This time, it feels like majority of the action was created with computers and green screens. To be fair, this is only an issue when compared to Mad Max: Fury Road (an impossible standard), as Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’s visual effects are still more striking than the majority of blockbusters, even when they don’t feel realistic. 

That being said, the film’s status as a prequel needs to be addressed, as there’s only so much growth the characters can have if we already know where they end up. The main issue with most prequels is that they waste time explaining where the hero gained their famous clothes, weapons, skills and lines, while failing to actually tell an interesting story. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga still falls into the trap of listing where Furiosa gained all of her iconic elements, yet Miller does manage to craft a compelling journey out of it. The result is that the film does indeed have its own epic adventure, yet it still requires the viewer to have seen Mad Max: Fury Road

Nathan Jones, Josh Helman, Lachy Hulme, and John Howard as Rictus, Scrotus, Immortan Joe and The People Eater.

The character drama is another place where Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga separates itself from its predecessor. Mad Max: Fury Road is iconic for its perfect blend of nuanced character development and breathless action, but Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga takes a less energetic approach. Given how powerful Mad Max: Fury Road was, this was the smartest choice for Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, as there was very little chance it would ever eclipse the former. This does at times feel as though Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is slacking off in comparison to Mad Max: Fury Road, but the more subdued action does have a  purpose. Where once we were right in the thick of battle, we are now placed as observers of the chaos. The film often fades over the dramatic action in favour of seeing the characters prepare for battle, or deal with the aftermath. While this does feel like we’re skipping over the things we want to see, the intention is to allow the viewer to think more about the philosophical stakes, which Miller isn’t shy about making clear through exposition. 

As with every fable, the heroes and villains carry the story, and Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga has a wonderful cast of talented actors bringing them to life. Charlize Theron gave us an action hero for the ages when she played Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, so Anya Taylor-Joy has massive shoes to fill. Happily, she’s more than up to the task, perfectly embodying the character as she transforms from shrewd survivor, to avenger, to mythic hero. Chris Hemsworth also does great work as the villainous Dementus, delivering a heartless, sadistic monster who is simultaneously funny, pathetic and abhorrent. It’s interesting to see an antagonist who’s actually not very skilled at being a warlord, but that doesn’t make him any less evil. Taylor-Joy and Hemsworth completely own the film, but the smaller role by Tom Burke as a Mad Max-esque general is no less memorable, despite his character needing more development. 

Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in a Mad Max motorbike chase.

Ultimately, did Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga manage to climb the mountain and reach the heights of Mad Max: Fury Road? Unfortunately not, but that doesn’t diminish the film’s merits, or it’s standing as an enjoyable epic. With its mythic storytelling, entertaining performances and philosophical action, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga earns it’s place among the Mad Max fables. 

7.5/10

Best way to watch: In a double feature with Mad Max: Fury Road obviously.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Poster.
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Robert Fantozzi

Passionate filmmaker. Proud Italian-South African. Total Nerd.

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