Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is another singular and breathtaking action movie

anya taylor joy as furiosa, furiosa a mad max saga
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga reviewJasin Boland - Warner Bros.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga isn't Mad Max: Fury Road, but that's not a bad thing. It sounds obvious, yet some fans might have expected more of the same.

Retreading the same road seems anathema to George Miller, so for his prequel to one of the greatest action movies of all time, he's gone epic. Gone is the relentless drive of Fury Road, and in its place is a character study that spans 15 years.

Sure, it's still the kind of movie that features a giant war rig with a set of swinging balls known as a Bommy Knocker, but that's Miller for you. There's nobody out there doing it quite like him, and you'll frequently be glad his quirky mind exists for us to enjoy.

To compare the two movies almost feels like missing the point. Furiosa could be better seen as a worthy companion piece to Fury Road, an epic odyssey that – when viewed together – will deepen your appreciation of what Miller has achieved across both movies.

anya taylorjoy, furiosa a mad max saga
Warner Bros.

Across five chapters, we watch Furiosa as she's taken from the Green Place of Many Mothers through her time with the warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) and eventually her place at the Citadel, ruled over by Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme, replacing the late Hugh Keays-Byrne).

What might surprise you going in is that Anya Taylor-Joy doesn't make her appearance as Furiosa until the third chapter. Alyla Browne takes on the role initially and impresses just as much as her older counterpart. From the get-go, you can see the intensity and rage bubbling below the surface from the Furiosa we knew in Fury Road.

It's a credit to the casting director Nikki Barrett that as the movie segues into the older Furiosa, it's a seamless transition. Taylor-Joy takes over for the third chapter The Stowaway, an astonishing 15-minute action sequence detailing an assault on the war rig run by Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke).

The sequence is the closest Furiosa ends up feeling to Fury Road. It's a relentless set piece that mixes Miller's characteristic visual flourishes with extraordinary stunts, often ones that leave you wondering just how the hell they did it. Most impressively, you'll genuinely believe Furiosa is in danger despite knowing she survives – it's that intense.

anya taylor joy as furiosa, furiosa a mad max saga
Jasin Boland - Warner Bros.

It's far from the only action set piece in Furiosa, and they all have moments of wonder – Dementus' first attack on the Citadel goes hilariously badly for him thanks to War Boys with hooks – but they're not as regular as Fury Road. Often, the movie even resists them in favour of the central conflict between Furiosa and Dementus.

In every way, Dementus is Furiosa's opposite. He's verbose, flashy and a complete dirtbag, compared brilliantly by one character to "anus pus". Crucially, Chris Hemsworth imbues him with a charisma that makes his moments of brutal savagery all the more impactful. It's one of his finest performances.

The same could be said of Anya Taylor-Joy. Her captivating performance continues to showcase why she's one of the most exciting talents around, telling so much about Furiosa often with just her eyes. When Furiosa has her moments to externalise her rage, much like Charlize Theron did in Fury Road, Taylor-Joy wrings the moment for all its worth.

Miller teases the eventual face-off between Furiosa and Dementus at several moments, before finally giving us it in the last chapter. Even here, though, it plays out unexpectedly, with a more intimate nature. It's not the huge climax of Fury Road, but it's no less compelling and emotional.

anya taylor joy as furiosa, tom burke as praetorian jack and chris hemsworth as dementus, furiosa a mad max saga
Jasin Boland - Warner Bros.

If there's a flaw to be found in Furiosa, it's that it can at times feel both quite slow and too rushed. The chapter structure means that the story frequently jumps forward, especially so during the ultimate chapter, which, as Miller has said, leads straight into Fury Road. You're left feeling you haven't seen the whole story.

It's probably more a reflection that this world Miller has crafted is so engaging that you just want to see everything. Gas Town and Bullet Farm, only glimpsed in Fury Road, are seen in all their glory, and we're introduced to even more colourful characters like Rizzdale Pell (Lachy Hulme in a dual role) and Scrotus (Josh Helman, who also played War Boy Slit in Fury Road).

Hopefully, if Miller gets to realise The Wasteland, set to tell the story of Mad Max before Fury Road, we'll see these characters again. As it is, you'll be a bit disappointed that Furiosa rushes to get to Fury Road when we'd happily watch another movie of Furiosa during her time at the Citadel.

So yes, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is not Mad Max: Fury Road. But it is another singular cinematic experience that needs to be witnessed.

4 stars
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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is out now in cinemas.

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