The World of Mad Max Returns: Furiosa's Tale Unfolds

Set against the backdrop of a desolate post-apocalyptic world, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga delves into the origin story of the formidable Imperator Furiosa, offering a gripping prequel to the beloved Mad Max: Fury Road

by Sededin Dedovic
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The World of Mad Max Returns: Furiosa's Tale Unfolds
© Warner Bros. Pictures / Youtube channel

Nine years after the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, it doesn't seem premature to call it one of the best Hollywood action films ever made. We may have already seen all the elements in previous Mad Max movies: the post-apocalyptic setting and the grieving road warrior caught in yet another desert demolition derby.

But director George Miller has never crushed them together with such enduring excitement or pure fervor. This is still an ordinary revenge film with a very thin plot, and all the extra effort the author puts into expanding the world actually ends up hurting the film, which becomes too bloated to satisfy us with its simple resolution.

The previous Mad Max films were mostly very simple plots, post-apocalyptic Australian westerns where the wandering hero finds himself amidst some gang conflicts, and these stories worked as neat standalone comic-book vignettes.

Unlike that approach, the plot of "Furiosa" spans fifteen years, and Miller builds the world much more detailed than ever before. Despite this, it is still an ordinary revenge film with a very thin plot, and all the extra effort the author puts into expanding the world actually ends up hurting the film, which becomes too bloated to satisfy us with its simple resolution.

One of the film's nicest surprises was that Max himself, played by Tom Hardy, wasn't even the best character. That honor went to the brilliant and thoughtful Imperator Furiosa, played by the stunning Charlize Theron in one of her best performances.

Such an unforgettable character was destined to reappear, and now Miller has given us a prequel titled Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. Mad Max is nowhere to be seen; this is the origin story of Furiosa. It begins in a lush oasis called the Green Place, located somewhere in the desert, where Furiosa, a young girl played by Alyla Browne, grows up in a secret society mostly of women.

The World of Mad Max Returns: Furiosas Tale Unfolds© Warner Bros. Pictures / Youtube channel

But one day, male raiders on motorcycles invade the Green Place and kidnap Furiosa. Her mother, played by Charlee Fraser, follows in hot pursuit and briefly manages to reclaim her.

Knowing they will likely be captured again at any moment, Furiosa's mother gives her a seed from their home, the Green Place, and tells her to keep it safe. Of course, shortly after, tragedy strikes, leaving Furiosa desperate not only to free herself but also to avenge her captors.

Her main target is the leader of the biker gang, Dementus, played menacingly by Chris Hemsworth, who, for a change, seems to enjoy playing a larger-than-life personality in something other than a Thor movie. From there, the plot thickens.

Dementus forms an unholy alliance with the evil warlord Immortan Joe, whom Furiosa will later encounter in Fury Road. That film wove a relentlessly tense and concise story set over a few breathless days, maintaining extraordinary momentum from start to finish.

The World of Mad Max Returns: Furiosas Tale Unfolds© Warner Bros. Pictures / Youtube channel

Furiosa, in contrast, is divided into five chapters spanning more than a decade, sometimes getting bogged down in the plot.

Simply put, Furiosa bides her time, disguising herself as a boy working in Immortan Joe's auto garage. By the time Anya Taylor-Joy takes on the role, Furiosa has grown into a top-notch mechanic, skilled driver, and strong fighter—ready to battle Dementus, Immortan Joe, and anyone else who might stand in her way.

This opens the film's most exciting sequence, where Furiosa escapes from Immortan Joe's citadel, hiding in a massive truck. The driver is a man named Praetorian Jack, played excellently by Tom Burke, with whom Furiosa teams up.

Soon the truck is under attack, and we watch a high-speed chase in Mad Max fashion, with Miller completely in his element. As usual, he takes vehicle action to absurd extremes, with wild acrobatic stunts inspired by everything from Buster Keaton to Looney Tunes.

Even in moments when the CGI looks a bit obvious, the chaos is staged and filmed with a kind of blissful coherence rarely seen in Hollywood blockbusters. As the camera zooms in and around the truck and the sound of drums pounds the soundtrack, Furiosa fully emerges as an action hero, throwing dynamite one minute and climbing to the top of the truck to fend off attackers the next.

Taylor-Joy has never played such a physically demanding role before—few actors have—and she meets the challenge head-on. Taylor-Joy here has a coolness that feels very different from the fiery intensity that made Theron's performance so spectacular.

Something is also missing in the script: while Furiosa's motive for revenge is quite convincing, something about her character arc feels too psychologically neat to grab or unsettle you in the way it should. In the end, the truest star of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is the post-apocalyptic world itself, with its burnt-orange dunes and towering desert citadels.

Miller has said he has more Mad Max films to make. The more he returns to this fictional landscape, the more real it becomes.

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