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Furiosa (2024) Review: Lady Mad Max Maximus

Furiosa (2024) Review: Lady Mad Max Maximus

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024) review

The post-apocalyptic genre has not seen the likes of Furiosa for a while. Now the dry spell has ended and there is only one thing left to ask.

Are you not entertained?

Reassuringly, Furiosa is blockbuster stupid. It is an origin story, told with recycled tropes. Alas, familiarity breeds contempt. But director George Miller pulls it off with carefully distilled feasibleness resulting in an uproarious marvel of crazy. At a point in the film, Chris Hemsworth’s prosthetic sniffer-faced baddie Dementus scoffs to himself:

So gullible! I hold them profoundly in contempt.

“Them” might very well be the audience. One can almost picture the smirk on Miller’s mug as he envisioned taking a chainsaw to uproot the viewers’ pretensions. Though Miller’s world is serviced with aplomb by bombs; Furiosa is rightfully not explosions for the sake of big spectacle.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is the latest in the Mad Max franchise and follows Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) which introduced the character of Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron). Whereas Fury Road vibed Smokey and the Bandit (1977) with its video game-like structured narrative, Furiosa takes itself more seriously. The story unfolds in chapters with Tarantino-esque titles (like Beyond Vengeance). There is something at stake here. But the tradeoff between the expense of character development and the deranged randomness of the Mad Max universe means the Franchise is coasting on IP recognition and hardcore fandom. 


WATCH: 11 Stunning Examples of Visual Storytelling


In the dystopian future of the Australian wasteland, young Furiosa is kidnapped from a utopian oasis called the Green Place of Many Mothers by goons of the Biker Horde. Their chieftain Dementus kills Furiosa’s mother when she tries to rescue her. Dementus grows in power and confronts Citadel, a flourishing settlement led by Immortan Joe. Following cease-fire talks Dementus trades his slave Furiosa to Immortan Joe in exchange for supplies of food and water. Furiosa works her way up the ranks of Joe’s men for over a decade, hungering for revenge over the death of her mother.

Enter a breathing world governed by its own set of rules. The sheer magnitude of world building thrown casually in your face makes us gasp in awe. You keep thinking it could not get crazier. The episodic structure approach works perfectly for this tale.

The release of Furiosa begs comparison to Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) and its relation to Star Wars. Both films chronicle the beginnings of major characters in their respective franchises and, once the credits roll, you walk away with the distinct feeling that the real action is happening elsewhere. Both franchises demand a true believer; one who religiously consumes every released creative output over myriad media  — from comics to movies, in the hopes of piecing together that sense of wholeness that is denied to you, but ever so tantalizingly close. 

Fury Road introduced us to a fleet of dystopian vehicles; the ultimate road-rage-therapy on wheels. They were characters in themselves and have attained iconic status for their attention to detail and ingenuity. Considering the Mad Max stylebook, the rides in Furiosa seem a bit tamer. A welcome exception is Dementus’ Chariot; a flash of silver regality rigged to three motorcycles and steered with reins. One regret is the lack of vanity shots devoted to these spliced up gladiatorial machines.

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The CGI looks shabby sometimes. But instead of being a distraction, it enhances the Mad Max reality distortion filter. One might argue, it was supposed to look like terrible CGI. The Flash (2023) infamously tried to explain away bad CGI as an artistic choice. But Furiosa works, primarily because such choices heighten the frenzied comic book-like experience it provides.

The soundtrack is a curious mix of machine and nature. It is quiet; unlike Fury Road which boasted bass boosted wails of fury and banshees screeching into crushing crescendos. Sometimes it flits like sand, never forming into artificial structures of enforced gaudiness. The thump-thudding background is silent menace, like an idling car.

Chris Hemsworth’s dandyish performance as the evil warlord Dementus wears down the movie a tad. At one moment he utters the chuckle-inducing ‘Hmm, questioning my bossority’ quip at a ghoulish subordinate. Dementus is not intimidating enough to warrant being the main baddie. The show stealer is Anya Taylor Joy as Furiosa. Her saucer-sized eyes do wonders with the little she is given. A peak career performance reaffirms her straight shot at stardom.

The desert is a character as well. It changes. It reflects emotions – rage, poignancy, numbness. The timeless beauty of the wasteland settles into the theme of perfection. Everybody is searching to attain perfection. Furiosa wants revenge for the loss of her childhood and innocence. Immortan Joe yearns for a perfect offspring. Dementus seeks to replace his slain family.

While it is painful to see Furiosa flop at the box office, the signs were already there. The Mad Max Franchise is an Adult rated series that attracts a niche audience. It does not boast the pop culture infusion of other media conglomerates like Harry Potter, MCU etc. What works in Furiosa’s favor is the vigorous doubling down on ideals that birthed the franchise in the first place. Everyone should not make it for everyone. Stay unapologetically crazy about the Mad Max Franchise.

How about a Rock Opera? We already had that flame spouting guitar guy in Fury Road


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