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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is Cinema at its Most Pure and Primal

George Miller’s euphoric blend of guns, guts, and gasoline is one of the best prequels of all time. 

Directed by George Miller

by Prabhjot Bains

George Miller’s Mad Max universe is not only a vision of a glorious apocalyptic future, but also a trip to cinema’s past—a roaring evocation of the death-defying stunts of icons like Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. The fiery, diesel-laced exploits of Max Rockatansky and Imperator Furiosa are modern-day analogues to the adventures of those cinematic pioneers, basking in the freedom of “Pure Cinema.” In heavily relying on vision and movement to craft his epic, Miller imbues Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga with a guttural, exhilarating power. His prequel is his most pure and primal expression of cinema: he distills it down to its very essence and injects it into our veins at high-octane speeds. The result is a euphoric blend of guns, guts, and gasoline.

Yet, despite how action-oriented its narrative becomes, it never loses sight of its identity as a saga. It wholly lives up to its title, as a sun-baked odyssey that breathes life, colour, and texture into Miller’s famed wasteland. Where Fury Road delivered unrelenting strokes of vehicular carnage, Furiosa forges the emblazoned canvas that made it possible. It’s the rare prequel that empowers what came before it, giving us just the right tools to revel in the splendour of its badlands.

Miller’s film opens with a young Furiosa (Alyla Browne & Anya Taylor-Joy) falling into the clutches of a biker horde led by the wildly unpredictable Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Furiosa is led further astray from her home in the Green Place of Many Mothers as Dementus’ chariot of motorbikes rampages across the wasteland. When Dementus’ horde comes across the Citadel, ruled by Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), a vast power struggle ensues. Furiosa finds herself embroiled in both their conflict and a struggle to make her way home.

While its chapter-based, decades-long plot does meander at times, Miller’s grand, immersive filmmaking more than makes up for it. His sweeping, sun-caked vistas ripple across the horizon with a beautiful sense of brutality. Furiosa is a far more impressionistic and visually fluid actioner than Fury Road, from the imposing mesas to the beaming celestial skies to the mechanical monstrosities ripping through the dunes. While it may lack the more abrasive, practical brilliance of its predecessor, Furiosa gives us a much dreamier, but no less propulsive spectacle. Its nearly wordless mayhem unfolds like a carefully choreographed symphony, with each frenetic whip, dizzying zoom-in, and awe-inspiring long take making even the most ludicrous of set pieces remarkably easy to follow. Despite how ridiculous Furiosa gets, Miller always reminds us there is a method to his sun-stroked madness.

While its characters might not speak much, the words they choose to utter are loaded with great cathartic weight. Furiosa boasts the best screenplay of the series, with each loaded piece of dialogue and narration adding to its Odyssean ambitions.

For the first time in his career, Hemsworth is nowhere to be seen when his character lights up the screen. Gone is his charming leading-man aura, and what remains is the wildly animated Dementus—a man of ambition, cunning, and barbarity. He especially excels in a late scene, where he poignantly describes the human condition amidst the wasteland: “We are the already-dead!” Along with Taylor-Joy’s quiet and combustive lead performance, the two boast a classic theatrical quality, where their intense physicality encases us in Miller’s sandbox.

Furiosa brazenly embodies its title, as both an awe-inspiring actioner and an epic saga. In the vein of David Bowie’s first single off of his album, Low, Miller gives us the gift of pure sound and vision.