Review: ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’

George Miller Delivers A Blistering, Sprawling Origin Story That Makes 'Fury Road' Better

Get ready to return to the Wasteland! Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is George Miller’s long-awaited follow-up to the instant classic Fury Road. But does it live up to the high expectations? Let’s be honest, it’s an impossibly high bar, but Furiosa brings all of the chaotic convoy action, war-mongering tyrants, and a brutal origin story for the titular valkyrie that only makes her more badass.  While it could be argued that Furiosa gets lost in the background a bit, it’s only because the post-apocalyptic world created by Miller is more twisted and colorful than ever.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga stars Anya Taylor-Joy in the title role, and she’s got big shoes to fill. Charlize Theron famously played the tough-as-nails warrior in Fury Road, crafting one of the most iconic original characters of the last 20 years. Taylor-Joy, who barely utters more than two dozen lines of dialogue in the film, does her best to play the character her own way, while telling the story of Furiosa’s evolution into the fierce protector we know she will be. She doesn’t actually show up as an adult until more than an hour in. Before that, we see Furiosa as a brave, intelligent girl. Covering 15 years, the film tells the epic saga of young Furiosa, whose boldness leads to her kidnapping from the Green Place of Many Mothers by a biker horde. It’s the story teased in Fury Road, and it’s a lot more epic than we could’ve guessed.

We see where Furiosa gets her fearlessness from. In the first few minutes, her mother rides a horse into the desert to retrieve her daughter, sniping fools all along the way. She steals one of their bikes and continues the chase, but Furiosa still ends up in the clutches of the crazed Warlord Dementus, played by Chris Hemsworth like some sort of mad Rasputin. Furiosa witnesses a heartbreaking death, then becomes the pet of Dementus, only to be traded for gas and potatoes to Immortan Joe, the masked leader and his pack of half-life War Boys we know she’ll end up driving for someday. And that isn’t even the half of it. She still has to lose that arm of hers, and it’s quite the gnarly experience. There’s also love, or whatever passes for love in Miller’s Wasteland, with Praetorian Jack, played by The Souvenir actor Tom Burke. Burke, channeling old school Mel Gibson/Mad Max rugged heroism, and it’s the closest thing to a romantic interest for Furiosa, but he still takes a backseat to her. This is Furiosa’s story.

It’s Hemsworth who brings an off-kilter energy as the unhinged leader Dementus, a nice contrast to Furiosa who is focused, serious, and not the type to crack a lot of jokes. The Wasteland is just as wild and untamed as ever, with war around every corner. Dementus and Immortan Joe battle for territory like gang leaders, but they also have a weird sort of rivalry over Furiosa, even when they don’t recognize who she is, as she keeps changing her look to fit the situation and her mission. Taylor-Joy matches up well with Hemsworth. The latter is so funny that he nearly steals the movie away from her. We can’t help but laugh when Dementus munches on human blood sausage, howls giddily when his head is nearly sniped off, and sacrifices his own men to save his own cowardly skin. He rides around the desert in a chariot of motorbikes like a dystopian Spartacus.

This movie is coming in at a disadvantage. Fury Road was a special, one-of-a-kind action movie the like of which we’ll never see again. Furiosa is not Fury Road. It doesn’t operate at the same blistering, exhausting pace, and the score is bland and forgettable. Fans should be prepared for that going in. But it’s still quite powerful, and features those killer fleet chases that are like Twisted Metal times a thousand. It’s cool to see the creation of some of the Mad Max universe’s scrap iron vehicles, like the War Rig, and the reintroduction of a few beloved supporting characters from Fury Road, adding context to some of their bizarre behaviors.

The best thing about Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is that it manages to tell its own story while expanding our understanding and appreciation for Fury Road and this weird, twisted Hell that Miller has created. Put together, these movies are impeccable and let’s hope Miller doesn’t make us wait a decade for the next one.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga opens in theaters on May 24th.


Travis Hopson
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.
review-furiosa-a-mad-max-sagaGet ready to return to the Wasteland! Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is George Miller’s long-awaited follow-up to the instant classic Fury Road. But does it live up to the high expectations? Let's be honest, it's an impossibly high bar, but Furiosa brings all...