June 20, 2024

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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga


Welcome back to the Wasteland. We a return to a world gone mad, but a world still clinging onto a sense of order and chaos. In Australia, right at its heart, exists a mythical green place, protected from the outside world that has see water wars, nuclear bombs go off and everyone go varying degrees of mad. The oceans have dried up – if you’ve seen Mad Max: Fury Road, one of the best films of the last decade, you’ll know the story, and now Furiosa returns with one of the best films of this decade – George Miller firing on all cylinders to deliver a rollercoaster of a breakneck experience that sets up Furiosa’s character and state of being ahead of her journey in Fury Road, this time, played at first by an incredibly talented Alyla Browne – and then as Anya Taylor-Joy, in a stirring origin tale that sees her escape captivity of the warlord Dementus, only to be caught in the middle of his greatest rival, Immortan Joe, who looks like a sane leader in comparison to Dementus at this stage – protecting over a glorious Citadel, presiding high over the endless desert.

Anya Taylor-Joy is a movie star and this is a movie-star’s performance! With minimal dialogue, Miller reckons that between both Mel Gibson and Tom Hardy there were less than a hundred lines of dialogue between all four films prior; Furiosa continues the tradition of wordless protagonists in a purely visual medium. You don’t need Furiosa to speak and if she does it gives the game away – she’s at first mute because she doesn’t want to give her home away to Dementus, and then Immortan Joe, she’s quiet because it’ll give the game away that she’s not actually a boy after her initial escape from the citadel backfires and she is allowed to retain her anonymity. It’s a harrowing series of events that showcase just how cruel Dementus is; like Proximus in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes he tries to cling onto law and order in a society gone rogue; riding through the wasteland on a Roman-esque chariot of motorcycles. It’s a testament to the sheer credit of Chris Hemsworth’s performance as Dementus that the movie had me howling with laughter at times in a completely sincere way, his conviction to strike a desperate bargain with Immortan Joe for power is showcased by his ruthlessness.

We see the factions splitting, forming, that would pave the way for the state of the world in Fury Road, and the film is one of the rare prequels not to get bogged down in the lore. It takes place, again, according to Miller, fifty years from now, not too far removed from today’s society but not unfeasible, but he’s deliberately vague about the Fury Road connections. This not a world-building exercise, it has a bit more room to breathe than Fury Road with moments where the pace is allowed to stop; but to compare it to that film would almost do it a disservice, Miller has thrived off reinvention, think how different The Road Warrior was to Mad Max, and Beyond Thunderdome to The Road Warrior in turn. This is Miller fusing the style of Fury Road with the 80s aesthetic to create a gap between the bridge that spans multiple decades, so intense and so sprawling a saga it’s more than just a prequel. To watch Fury Road post Furiosa is to witness what looks like how it was intended to be seen, rather than the other way around.

Vehicular carnage is pure, unfiltered and spectacular through the length of the film. Tom Burke steps into play Furiosa’s mentor and a proto-Mad Max in stature, Max is present in Furiosa but only briefly, this is all on Praetorian Jack, and Jack and Furiosa’s near wordless bond showcases the sheer power that both actors have on stage. You buy their friendship as it’s formed through a need for survival in a chaotic war rig dance of destruction, Taylor-Joy’s ballet training coming in play here for a purely physical presence in combat, and Miller directs it to perfection. I love his naming of weapons and characters too – Piss Boy, Immortan Joe, Furiosa for someone who is Furious, Dementus for someone who is demented, it’s the little things that make this world feel so unique, a fascinating creation of its own.

The plot isn’t as full-throttle as Fury Road, this is more in line with Three Thousand Years of Longing. This is the story of Furiosa the character, a saga worthy of the gods themselves – both Taylor-Joy and Browne, of whom the transition between both is near flawless, so on point you won’t recognise it as you’ll be so immersed in the film by then, play a worthy heir to Charlize Theron. You shouldn’t have doubted Miller when he said that Theron wasn’t coming back for this, as great as she was in Fury Road. Opposite them Hemsworth’s performance as Dementus should be up for awards this year – his complete conviction rivals the very best of them, it’s his movie as much as it is Furiosa’s, and the pair are a match made in heaven, or rather the wasteland, for each other – a rivalry that stands the test of time. This commitment to revenge, a pursuit of freedom, masterful action sequences and a thorough understanding of what made the franchise so special in the first place whilst being unafraid to offer something completely new and supercharged makes Furiosa the best prequel ever made.

VERDICT: 9/10



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