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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

George Miller delivers another stroke of genius that may not be on par with the legendary Fury Road, but still impresses on all parameters.

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Mad Max: Fury Road will be remembered for decades to come, I'm pretty sure. Yes, other film universes have occupied the collective popular cultural consciousness to a greater extent, but George Miller's surprising, loud and fully-formed action epic remains razor-sharp in memory as so unique, so different and so utterly in love with itself. Fury Road put the car in gear and stepped on the accelerator and didn't care if you understood the mythology, the characters or the wider world, it was too busy being itself.

Perhaps it's obvious, but Fury Road is one of my absolute favourites, so it's with viewers like me that Miller probably finds his toughest battles. Because why does Fury Road need to be expanded, contextualised and explained? Why do we need to see where the character Furiosa comes from when her arc is so perfectly realised in Fury Road? Why tamper with a masterpiece?

These are all relevant questions, but after watching Furiosa, they've all faded into the background, because it doesn't really matter what relationship Furiosa has to Fury Road, or what the motivation behind the film really is. All that matters is that this is one of the best films of the year so far, and that Miller once again demonstrates that he knows what he's doing. Furiosa is heavy metal and thrilling storytelling, it's an action blockbuster, a character drama and a parody all at the same time. And it all works. All the time.

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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Furiosa tells the story of the Fury Road character of the same name, from when she's abducted as a little girl from a secluded green oasis in the middle of the otherwise radioactive and barren Wasteland, and ends up in the hands of the unhinged, theatrical and vicious Dementus played by Chris Hemsworth. From there, the film touches on how Dementus challenges Immortan Joe, how Furiosa positions herself as Imperator and how she plans to ultimately escape it all, an escape that famously sets the stage for the events of Fury Road. The two films are separated by several decades, but as the scenes unfold, they become inextricably linked as one cohesive narrative. It's subtle when needed and never gives us more answers than we need. Indifferent exposition is a stranger for Miller and screenwriter Nick Lathouris, and while Hemsworth is given plenty of screen time, almost every character is muted and the film, like Fury Road, is more interested in showing events unfold than overexposing the audience with bumbling exchanges.

Anya Taylor-Joy actually arrives quite late in the film, around the halfway point, but is mesmerising every time she takes the screen. And while she only has about 40 lines in the entire film, it's body language, situational physics and scene composition that give her an expression, and she nails it - always. However, it's ultimately Hemsworth who takes much of the attention, and although his role borders on self-parodying in a bad way, he is so confident as the mildly unhinged Dementus that, in this world if nothing else, he is infinitely believable and realistic. The rest of the ensemble delivers strong performances all round. Tom Burke is fantastic as Praetorian Jack, and a number of Fury Road characters return via the same actors, such as Nathan Jones' Rictus Erectus and Angus Sampson's Organic Mechanic. The world of Mad Max is weird, bizarre and wonderfully unique, and every character constantly walks the fine line between the brutal and the comical. Unfortunately, the only one missing is Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe, who died in 2020. His presence made his version of Immortan just that bit scarier, and it's a shame that that essence doesn't manifest again here.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
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This is a fantastic story that more than justifies its running time of almost two and a half hours, brought to life by magnificent performances and given a pulsating, energetic rhythm by Junkie XL's magnificent score. Furthermore, this is one of the most striking, flashy and complete visual experiences, despite a slightly annoying increase in CG animation. This is really a granular complaint, because many of the set pieces still have an analogue, tactile dimension, but you can feel the computer-generated, plastic-like quality in certain scenes, and there are even some animations that feel decidedly unrealistic and 'floaty', if you will.

But that's really all, because Furiosa is a stroke of genius that proves Miller has a complete grasp of the Mad Max universe and creating thought-provoking, different action that speaks directly to the brain and heart. He gets the best out of his actors, his set design, his soundtrack and his world, and this film, as the many Warboys say again and again, should be remembered.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
overall score
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