‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ Review: Chris Hemsworth And Anya Taylor-Joy Take Dystopian Franchise To New Levels – Cannes Film Festival

‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ Review: Chris Hemsworth And Anya Taylor-Joy Take Dystopian Franchise To New Levels – Cannes Film Festival

Since their beginnings in 1979, George Miller’s hyper-jacked Mad Max movies with Mel Gibson had not received a single Oscar nomination, not even for Tina Turner’s great signature song “We Don’t Need Another Hero” in 1985’s Beyond Thunderdome. But then, 30 years later, when finally the fourth and Gibson-less edition appeared, the snooty Academy got on board and gave the newly regenerated Mad Max: Fury Road 10 nominations including for Best Picture and Director. It won six of them, virtually sweeping the crafts categories.

Nine years later comes a prequel, Furosia: A Mad Max Saga, and Miller, now seemingly ageless at 79 (he was 34 when the first one came out) has perhaps given birth to the greatest Max yet, a wheels-up, rock-and-rolling epic that delivers the origin story of the title character Charlize Theron picked up in Fury Road when she was about 26.

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That movie only covered about three days total. Here, in a story spanning 15 years, we meet Furiosa as a 10 year old (Alyla Browne) living in the Green Place of Many Mothers, about as idyllic a life as you might find in this dystopian post-apocalyptic world where violence and futuristic warriors rule the landscape. She is snatched up during an early bruising battle by a fearsome Biker Horde led by the villainous and conflicted Warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth). Her face says it all as she now must begin the long process of survival, honing skills no one her age could imagine and putting them to use when the gang encounters the Citadel and The Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), whose group will fight for superiority with the Dementus crowd. But like Dorothy in Oz, all she wants to do is find her way home.

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It is along this path in the Wasteland that Furiosa (now played by Anya Taylor-Joy) stows away, basically disguising herself as a male, on the incredible War Rig, a mind-blowing motorized machine that is a moving fortress all its own — and that is an understatement as is amply demonstrated in a 15-minute showcase set piece that takes cinematic action to new heights, even literally, when winged zeppelin bikers launch aerial attacks. Here also is where Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke) comes into play and, unexpectedly, into Furiosa’s life when she finds she actually can relate (in a way) to this man, the driver of the War Rig, despite being complete opposites. There is clearly some potential, even for non-existent humanity as it turns out, that Jack sees in this mostly silent but resilient emerging young fighter.

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That pair must face off with Dementus, an ego-driven leader who has amassed a loyal following of super creepy warriors. Unlike some villains in stories like this, there is dimension to his bloodthirsty swagger, untold pain and grief from his past that he channels to no good purpose. Also unlike previous editions that were heavy on visual action (and no doubt this one is too), Dementus in particular is given long stretches of Shakespearean-style dialogue and speeches that are impeccably delivered by Hemsworth in what I think is the best performance of his career. In this brutal, appropriately-named Wasteland, he shows the remnants of a man for whom violence and lack of humanity have become his only means to exist in a scorched-earth world where only the strong and gas hoarders survive. Hemsworth, employing a distinct accent and look, locks into this role with abandon and steals the picture. He instantly becomes one of the great villains, complex and endlessly watchable and charismatic like all of the most misguided leaders.

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This is not to say Taylor-Joy, who joins the film halfway through, isn’t his match, but she does it all with the eyes and a physicality she probably didn’t realize she was capable of (the training is intense, apparently) and she leads us right to cusp of where Theron picks up the role in the previous Fury Road. Inevitably, these two movies will play together on double bills in revival houses for decades, or maybe Miller will want to find a way to splice them together into a six-hour epic. The match between them appears seamless, and in fact Miller and co-writer Nico Lathouris created the whole origin and backstory of Furiosa in novel and script form even before setting out to make Fury Road. This is the best screenplay of any Mad Max film, with much to say.

When the time came to make this prequel they already had the goods, and it was up to the casting to bring it to life. In this regard Miller hit a bull’s-eye, not just with Hemsworth and Taylor-Joy but also the brilliant Burke, who nails Praetorian Jack with abandon. Browne as the younger Furiosa is also extraordinary in a role that is much more than just a gateway for Taylor-Joy to take over. The large and colorful supporting cast is so much fun to watch including Hulme who not only plays The Immortan Joe, but also in full regalia as Rizzdale Pell. Matuse as Fang and Goran Kleut as Oct-Boss make the most of their time, as does the exceptional Charlee Fraser as badass Mary Jabasa, who takes matters into her own hands early on.

Production-wise, Miller has gotten the band back together including those Oscar winners: production designer Colin Gibson, editor Margaret Sixel, costume designer Jenny Beavan, makeup/hair wizard Lesley Vanderwalt and sound guru Ben Osmo. Simon Duggan joins the team with exceptional camera work, and Tom Holkenborg’s score simply rocks. Shout-out to action designer Guy Norris and his team, who show the need for a stunts Oscar if ever there was a better example than this movie.


Furiosa has the goods. It world premiered at the Cannes Film Festival tonight (just as Fury Road did in 2015) and opens May 24. Producers of the Warner Bros and Village Roadshow production are Miller and Doug Mitchell.

Title: Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Festival: Cannes (Out of Competition)
Distributor: Warner Bros
Release date: May 24, 2024
Director: George Miller
Screenwriters: George Miller, Nico Lathouris
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Alyla Browne, Lachy Hulme, Matuse, Goran Kleut, Charlee Fraser
Rating: R
Running time: 2 hr 28 min

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