Review: 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' has moments but is no 'Fury Road'

Chris Hemsworth in “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.”

Chris Hemsworth in “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

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Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

The "Mad Max" franchise has been going for over 40 years, and the newest installment, "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga," isn't about Max. The movie is a prequel to the 2015 film "Mad Max: Fury Road" and tells the origin story of Furiosa.

Charlize Theron is not back as Furiosa, but Anya Taylor-Joy has stepped in as the younger version of the renegade warrior, and Chris Hemsworth as a despicable villain hungry for power, status and guzz-oline.

"Fury Road" made many fans out of moviegoers who had not previously been road warriors, but what about "Furiosa"?

The new movie was a letdown. It has some incredible elements, but overall, it fell short.

Here are some reasons "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga" is an overall miss despite some good things.

The good

Chris Hemsworth

At the moment, Chris Hemsworth is one of the biggest stars on the planet. We're used to seeing him as the hero in movies like "Thor," "Extraction" and "Men in Black: International." In Furiosa, Hemsworth is cast against type, as warlord Dementus and is undoubtedly demented.

The Mad Max series is known for creating disturbing and unique characters, and Dementus is one of the most disturbing and unique. Hemsworth brings an uncomfortable humor and charisma to the baddie, and he is a big bright spot in the movie. Stealing almost every scene he's in, Hemsworth proves his chops as the heavy.

The visuals

Whether you like the Mad Max series or not, it's hard to deny that director George Miller is a maestro behind the camera. His use of zooms and pulls, quick edits and panning vista shots is often dizzying but mesmerizing.

"Furiosa" is a visual feast of colors, action and set pieces. The camera movement is expert, and this movie was meticulously planned. It truly felt that not one shot was wasted.

One action sequence lasts about 15 minutes, took a reported 78 days to shoot, and the attention to detail comes through. The sequence is exhilarating and keeps you on the edge of your seat, but it's not just the action and stunts that do it. The shot selection is precise and gives us a clear idea of where all the players are located, why they are essential to the action, and how each leads to the eventual outcome of the scene. This scene alone made up for many of the movie's mistakes.

The bad

It doesn't seem to go anywhere

The movie has a story arc, but it doesn't feel like we get anywhere meaningful. It's hard to explain without seeing the film, but I'll give it a whirl.

There is a collection of scenes that act as filler and don't add to the story, which wears on the audience considering the movie runs nearly 2½ hours. The action comes in spurts and then abandons us for long portions, which is frustrating considering most came to see an action movie. Yes, we get that epic 15-minute-long action sequence, but then we slam on the brakes and have a long bout of vista shots and political debate.

Especially toward the end of the movie, it feels like the film skips over some important and interesting narrative elements to take the plot in a new direction.

The ending is a letdown

Because of these big jumps, we find ourselves in the middle of the film's finale, and it feels rushed, incomplete and unearned. This was the biggest frustration for me, considering we invested 2½ hours in this story, getting to know these characters and their motivations, just to have a rushed conclusion.

The finale felt like the filmmakers put together this visual feast and then remembered they had to end the movie and just weren't really sure what to do, so they said, "This is OK," and they went with it.

It's even more frustrating when you realize this is what you walk out of the theater with. I had to sit with this for a few hours and reflect on what I liked about the movie. I was so hung up on how it ended and wondered if some of the film was missing and didn't make it to our theater.

What parents should know

Plain and simple, parents should know this is not a kid's movie. If you're familiar with the franchise, you know what you're in for — but if you're not, you should know that this movie earned its R rating. "Furiosa" is incredibly violent and often graphic in its depiction. There is no real language to speak of, but the entire tone of the dystopian world is dark and disturbing. While there is no actual sex, there are plenty of references to sexual violence, women used as breeding machines, as well as sexual violence toward children.


As I thought about this movie, I realized something very interesting. Had I seen this movie before "Fury Road," I may have liked it a fair amount. Between the eye-popping visuals, Hemsworth's Dementus, and that jaw-dropping 15-minute action sequence, I think I would have really liked this movie. But I have seen "Fury Road," and for my money, "Furiosa" is nowhere near the expertly crafted movie that was, which is a disappointment.

Plenty of people will like" Furiosa," but it missed the mark for me. At the end of the movie, it shows clips of "Fury Road," all I could think about was how much I wanted to watch that movie again.

"Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga" is officially rated R for sequences of strong violence and grisly images.

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John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. He also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome, and it just so happens, that these are the three things he writes about.


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