Review: Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Score: B+

Director: George Miller

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Lachy Hulme

Running Time: 148 Minutes

Rated: R

There's no doubt that Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is the summer's biggest spectacle. A sprawling tale of violence and revenge, it's impressive in a way no other movie this summer will be. It laps them all, but it still falls a bit short. And that's because it can't help but come in second to the film it leads into.

When Mad Max: Fury Road premiered in 2015, it was more than just a reboot of an action-packed trilogy. It was a truly mind-blowing experience full of jaw-dropping stunts and visual effects. In the nine years since, budgets have only gotten bigger, but few have come close to providing a fraction of its thrills. And so Furiosa is here to save the day, but this prequel still can't match its predecessor's greatness.

A true saga, Furiosa covers decades in the Wasteland. This keeps it from getting off to a racing start, but it makes sure this Furiosa is the most developed character in any of the five films in the series. Kidnapped as a child, the resourceful girl (Alyla Browne) has an indomitable spirit, but spends most of her life in chains. First she's owned by Dementus (Chris Hemsworth in a divisive performance), the leader of a biker gang who comes to believe his own messianic speeches. As his power grows, so do his delusions. When she's groomed by Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) to become one of his wives, she escapes and re-emerges on her own terms.

Yes, that's a lot of set-up and lot of horrific violence. But once Taylor-Joy takes over the role, the film never slows down. Throughout, there are numerous "How did they do that?!" scenes. The siege on a custom big rig is one of the most thrilling sequences I've ever seen in a movie. Nothing has made me light up like that since the Paris section of Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Even with some obvious CGI, there's a perfect sense of space, character and danger that so few modern blockbusters even attempt.

But what brings this closer to greatness is its finale. Without giving anything away, all the vehicular mayhem and explosions are stripped away. It's just fists and sand, with some surprisingly poignant dialogue about how this evil world has turned even the most good-hearted people into ruthless savages. It's the deepest this series has ever gotten, and it elevates Furiosa from a solid action movie into something better.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.