In 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Tom Hardy’s iteration of Mad Max tells Charlize Theron’s version of Furiosa, “Hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane.” Throughout these projects, director George Miller’s visceral shows a world ravaged by catastrophe where hope is in short supply, much like the resources those who remain fight to the death over. In Fury Road, Max reluctantly joins Furiosa’s quest to mute the ghost voices in his mind of those he could not have, while Furiosa has to redefine what home is due to circumstances that have engulfed the world. Miller drenched Fury Road in a constant, rather delightfully frantic propulsion of kinetic energy in a defined amount of time. 

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” the prequel to Fury Road, is deliberately paced in spades. It widens the scope of what the wasteland has become, the environments born from its continuous thirst for survival and allegiances, and what loss and revenge do to even the purest of hearts. At the center is Furiosa, when we first see the younger version of herself (played by Alyla Browne) inside the colorful, fertile land of the Green Place of Many Mothers. Unfortunately, being in this utopia is short-lived because a clan of raiders will soon kidnap her. Her mother, Mary Jo Bassa (Charlee Fraser), goes in pursuit of rescuing her. With that quest, she also hopes that her home isn’t discovered by the horrible underbelly of thieves and criminals roaming the wasteland. Upon realizing where Furiosa is taken, we find out that this is all at the behest of the leader of the Biker Gang, Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), a maniac looking for an opportunity to place more resources under his thumb. Taking an interest in Furiosa’s origins, Dementus and his soldiers are on a collision course with Mary. Despite her valiant efforts to free Furiosa, the young girl has to watch her mother get tortured to death and then become the property of the ruthless warlord for years to come.

Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Jasin Boland © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

At that moment, you may figure Miller and co-writer Nico Lathouris may immediately lead into how the quest for vengeance and what the world has become twists Furiosa’s temperament to become Dementus’s grim reaper. However, it takes some time to get there—electing to veer towards a bigger story of warring factions as years pass with Furiosa as an onlooker. This choice allows Chris Hemsworth to exert charisma in one of his most enjoyable roles yet. He gives comedic quips and yields a demented fury while Dementus discreetly leaks why he’s become his way in pieces. A chunk of the four-chapter structure is devoted to illustrating the power struggle between Dementus and Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) and seeing the political plays manifesting into the actual visualizations of Gas Town and the Bullet Farm. It’s the cinematography of Simon Duggan and Miller’s ability to make these sprawling, rustic places feel alive against the brown lushness of the endless desert. 

While this story is going on, Furiosa’s character takes a long time to play into what will eventually be her moment of redemption, hoping to find her way back home. It’s the undercover nature of her younger self cosplaying as one of Immortan Joe’s War Boys where the audience gets to see that fully realized within Anya Taylor Joy. She’s intensely focused on the mission while working as a mechanic. Taylor Joy’s Furiosa has few lines to say, but the actress makes them count in tandem with the facial expression and the physicality she brings to this role. While the film gets in the weeds with this uneasy pull for power, it doesn’t forget the extensive action sequences that have excited fans of the Mad Max franchise.

Anya Taylor-Joy in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
© 2024 Warner Bros. Feature Productions Pty Limited and Domain Pictures, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

There’s an extended one, in particular, involving the War Rig, its highly skilled driver, and Citadel commander Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke) trying to drive supplies to outposts while fending off marauders that are adrenaline-inducing. Jack and Furiosa form a partnership in that venture, being the only surviving members of the conquest. Tom Holkenborg’s pulsating score acts like a companion to the sequences at hand, guaranteed to have you clinging to your seat as if you’re riding a roller coaster. 

There’s a hint of something more between Jack and Furiosa, but Miller pulls back before diving into it extensively. When that happens, you realize that it would be nice if there were just a bit of attention outlining Furiosa’s backstory and her motivations outside the central driving force. Despite that, it’s not enough to sour the film for you entirely because Miller strives to utilize a different story device than in “Fury Road.” “Furiosa” sees the earth stripped to its bare essentials and men forged by greed and hatred jockeying for dominance. Inside that vortex is a woman with an indomitable will that seeks to correct the wrongs of the present and gain atonement for the past. The Dementus and Immortan Joe’s come and go, but what is ultimately left in that vacuum when they do? It’s why Miller put Furiosa at the forefront of this tale because she’s the emergence of hope out of fury. 

Main Photo Credit: Jasin Boland