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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Victorious & Unstoppable

The absence of hope is the bleeding scar within our certainties that we as human beings can navigate through in our bodies, feelings, and identities.  The reality may be that the world is collapsing and terminating these certainties anyway. “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” dissects these scars with full focus, patience, and commitment in a heart-racing, body-smashing action epic that is the origin story of Fury Road’s Charlize Theron’s heroine. 

Years after the collapse of most civilizations, Australia has become a desert wasteland with limited access to food, water, and nature. Hidden from most people lies “The green place of the many mothers”, a matriarchal paradise that empowers its female youth and lies in solidarity with the loyal men just outside who work together with this exotic tribe in maintaining their resources. Tiny Furiosa (Alyla Browne) is first seen plucking an apple when she notices a group of bikers. Knowing they’ll spread the word of her home and return to take over, Furiosa cuts one of their tires only to be knocked out and taken far from her home to the biker's violent ringleader Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) who slaughters Furiosa’s mother (Charlee Fraser) when she arrives to save her. Before she dies, she tattoos a star chart to the Green Place on Furiosa’s left arm and makes her promise to find her way home. 

The obnoxious savages and a now mute Furiosa make their way towards the Citadel, another wasteland settlement run by the equally immoral Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) whom Dementus intends to overthrow only to find the task impossible. Joe agrees to a limited amount of their resources sporadically in exchange for Furiosa whom he intends to eventually impregnate alongside his other “Brides” as a means of reproducing more males. Furiosa disguises herself as male and works her way up the ranks of Joe’s men for over a decade, by the end of which Furiosa is now played by Anya Taylor-Joy. 

Furiosa’s identity is discovered by one of Joe’s top drivers Jack (Tom Burke) who sees her potential and agrees to keep her secret and help her escape the Citadel if she can help rebuild his crew, as many were killed on a severe desert chase. Furiosa and Jack eventually find an opportunity to escape only for Dementus and his crew to sabotage their efforts. Furiosa is left bleeding without her left arm, her anatomical ticket home, and a body full of rage and trauma ready to release and destroy the man who took her life from her.

Mad Max: Fury Road was 2015’s most popular film and one of the most critically acclaimed. Furiosa has received the utmost praise from most critics but sadly, many of them (And most audiences I’m sure) will be comparing the two. Furiosa is not Fury Road nor is it supposed to be. It is its own body of work whose viewing pleasures and majestic qualities lie in the overwhelming visual effects, sound design, cinematography, writing, and acting. Themes of female agency, women’s freedom of their bodies, the climate crisis, dictatorship, vengeance and loneliness amongst the margins of society are not so much revisited here as they are restructured. You see these crucial topics play out in service of the story without ever feeling repetitive. Furiosa doesn’t have as much dialogue as she did in Fury Road (Which will be pointed out endlessly by many). Taylor-Joy hints that this allowed her to focus on Furiosa’s psyche and save the most important dialogue towards the end in a reunion between Furiosa and Dementus, which was worth waiting nearly three hours for and effortlessly avoids the cliche “You stole everything from me, now you must pay.” trope usually seen in revenge films. Taylor-Joy and Hemsworth opt instead in favor of a very long conversation out in the desert that is lawyered and enriched with substance and context that peels off the hidden lawyers of these two broken people, one of whom has embraced evil, the other, smart enough to use it to her advantage in the service of others who are suffering. 

“WHERE WERE YOU GOING?” bellows Dementus when he catches Furiosa and Jack. “SO FULL OF HOPE?!” “THERE IS NO HOPE!” Hemsworth has much more complexity as a villain than I anticipated.  He sinks into the essence of someone who doesn’t care anymore and thrives on the power of standing high above others and taking from them. He maintains a glimmer of humor with his body language whilst remaining frightening just as he did in Bad Times At The El Royale. By the time Furiosa stands above with her metal arm and iconic “Remember me?” delivery, Dementus no longer comes across as frightening. He shadows all his inner weaknesses whilst making a case for himself as he and Furiosa continue to challenge each other under the boiling sun. 

Of course, audiences can expect many enjoyable car chases out in the desert with screeching brilliant sound design. I close my eyes and can still hear the wheels race amongst the Australian sands. Taylor-Joy’s epic work is truly the cherry on top of this summer smash sundae. She’s so alluring, dominant, and unstoppable but still manages to portray it in a way that reminds us human beings are slippery and messy. She’s proclaimed Furiosa to be the hardest role she’s ever done.  All her hard work is so applaudable. There are many Furiosas in the world and right now, many of them are imprisoned by horrific groups residing in places they find more important than the return of these Furiosas. 

War is just as much a theme as all the others here. No one likes war except the evil but many understand that sometimes, circumstances are horrible enough that it becomes necessary. Furiosa is not so much about the horrors of war but rather the horrors of what necessitates wars and the false promises of the monsters who lead us there. 

Revenge and vengeance are often lumped together but have less in common than many would predict. Furiosa as a film understands that vengeance is ok because it is not only fair but rarely resolves itself the way you want it to. No one that we deem as truly irredeemable ever suffers the way we often fantasize. “There will always be war, but to get home….Furiosa fought the world.” Fury Road was the ultimate victory. Furiosa was the mandatory war that brought us there. 

Azevedo, D. [DanieAzevedo]. (2024, May 29). Furiosa A Mad Max Saga Movie Poster | Furiosa A Mad Max Saga (2024).

Movie poster designed and sold by DanieAzevedo.

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