By Brontë H. Lacsamana, Reporter

Movie Review
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Directed by George Miller

A FIVE-PART post-apocalyptic symphony chronicling a woman’s decades-long quest for revenge and homecoming — this is an epic description for Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga that barely scratches the surface. George Miller’s immense prequel builds on the legacy of Mad Max: Fury Road in all the right ways.

In a world where sequels, crossovers, multiverses, reboots, and the like have created franchise upon franchise of unnecessary add-ons and rehashes to already superior movies, Furiosa stands out by refusing to contend with the existing bar that has been set. It is a truly rewarding journey made for those who want to deepen the “guzzoline”-fueled impact of Fury Road, a masterpiece that seemed like it had to be the pinnacle of director Miller’s insane ideas. Now we know that it was only one of the treasures uncovered from the carnage that is his mind.

The story begins with young Furiosa, who is taken from the green place where she was born and raised and held captive by a biker horde known for ravaging the post-apocalyptic wasteland. For most of the film, she is played by Anya Taylor-Joy, whose casting had many doubting its wisdom as she was considered too slight and delicate to play the character so commandingly brought to life by Charlize Theron. But, with just a few words and incredibly piercing eyes, she summons forth the ferocity and strong moral fiber that made Furiosa arguably the most memorable character in Fury Road. By the end of Furiosa, when her transformation is complete, her voice even sounds remarkably like Theron’s.

However, it would be a disservice not to acknowledge the excellent job done by Alyla Browne, who plays the young Furiosa for at least 45 minutes before Taylor-Joy takes over. As she tries to bite, kick, and crawl her way out of the clutches of the biker horde that snatched her from her home and later refuses to be their pawn in a climb to power, young Browne makes clear how such a tough, tortured character grew up still ticking with the rhythm of hope.

Browne/Taylor-Joy’s performances are pushed forth by the crazy energy of the object of their hate and reason for revenge — the warlord Dementus, played by Chris Hemsworth in what is possibly his career-best. Well outside the confines of his usual hunk roles (though those who watched Bad Times at El Royale will know he is definitely capable of playing a villain), Hemsworth is extremely fun to watch as he sweeps the wasteland with his rowdy, godforsaken followers. Upon encountering the citadel lorded over by Immortan Joe, the chaotic form of tyranny he brings to seek dominance in face of a daunting seat of power is thrilling to watch.

Meanwhile, as Furiosa is exposed to the barren, chaotic landscape in which we all know her to thrive, the film presents us with the seeds of her long-term, deep-seated goal to eventually find her way back to her real home. It is an experience that is as outlandish, excessive, and full of turmoil as one would expect for an action opera directed by George Miller. It’s a different beast altogether than those of modern-day virtuosos like Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve, but the gigantic tales and themes they all take on are undoubtedly on the same tier. Those expecting the gritty, grimy, phantasmagorical quality of the previous Mad Max films will be overjoyed to find that this isn’t shiny and polished like most prequel/sequels of today. It’s not as electric as Fury Road, but Furiosa paves the way to it perfectly.

Of the five parts that make up the film, “Stowaway to Nowhere” brings us to a sequence that rivals that of the massive vehicular chaos and carnage that made the previous film iconic. Beyond that, every part is essential, having us comb the wasteland with Furiosa in immense war rigs and power-packed cars, lithe yet explosive motorbikes, and weakly, soaked in blood, on foot, and missing an arm.

The madness with which Miller orchestrates these vivid set pieces and action sequences is truly immersive. The roar of engines and the screech of steel colliding with steel fuel Dementus’ dangerous tirade of despair and Furiosa’s silent spark of hope, a deafening one-two punch of humanity at the cusp of the end-times. Long takes, wide perspectives, and flexible camera work taking us along on the ride all aid in the movie’s singular vision.

Furiosa is something of a coming-of-age film as well as an action-packed revenge thriller. It is both poignant and tender as well as intense and frenzied. It seems no summer blockbuster this year will even come close to the full experience that this movie brings.

MTRCB Rating: R13