Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga – Film Review

Mad Max: Fury Road, released in 2015, captivated me with its action even in the tiny theater I watched it in, quickly securing a top spot on my list of best action films. The film’s relentless action from start to finish was so beautifully crafted that you felt exhausted by the end. Naturally, any sequel following such a groundbreaking film in action cinema must reach a certain level. After all, the film even managed to break into Cahiers du Cinema’s top 10. This was the expectation. However, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, unfortunately, does not have the capacity to meet this expectation. It’s like a blurry mirage on the horizon. The fundamental issue isn’t just that it fails to reach the level of the original; it’s a film plagued with technical and content problems. Instead of progressing further, the film shifts into reverse, taking many steps back.

Let’s briefly touch on the plot… Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga narrates Furiosa’s childhood, the main protagonist of the first film, and the process that made her the primary driver of the War Rig. We delve into the origin of the Green World mentioned in the first film and expand upon the memories of Furiosa, about whom we had only received small details within the film.

When the trailer for Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga was first released, I felt compelled to watch it despite generally avoiding trailers. I wish I hadn’t. The trailer significantly lowered my expectations, and it turns out that the trailer was an accurate reflection of the film because, just as seen in the trailer, the film has serious flaws. It saddens me to describe a movie with a $168 million budget as flawed, but technically, it is a weak film with significant issues. I was particularly surprised that a master like George Miller would produce such a troubled film.

Despite high expectations, I watched the film knowing it couldn’t surpass the first one. The story demanded that the film be relatively more tedious than the original. After all, the first film was entirely an escape story, while Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga focuses on a character’s life story. Thus, it was evident that it would be a drama embellished with action. However, despite this awareness, the story still failed to draw me in. I expected a more substantial and more compelling life story. I didn’t get what I wanted.

However, the main issue, unfortunately, is not the story. The film is particularly glaring in its editing. The director’s striking quick cuts from the first film have been replaced by irrelevant cuts, unnecessary jumps, and outdated fade ins/outs. The unnecessary use of slow-motion scenes and the peculiar use of fast motion, rarely seen in films, are particularly jarring to someone like me who edits professionally. But perhaps the worst part is the blatant presence of green screen. Before making my comments, I rewatched the first film to ensure my critique was accurate: the green screens in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga are glaringly obvious for a film with a $168 million budget. I’m not typically one to criticize a film based on its VFX, but I didn’t expect such blatant visibility. Lastly, I want to believe that the theater I watched it in made a mistake, but the film’s sound design also lacked impact. Having watched Dune 2 in the same IMAX theater, where I could feel the sounds in my chest, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga had nothing beyond a few engine rumbles that stood out. Even though I usually sit close to the upper edge near the speakers, I felt nothing from this film.

Another issue, which should not exist, is Anya Taylor-Joy. One of today’s most striking actresses, Anya, being the weakest link in the film was the most surprising to me. Alyla Browne, whom I discovered through the 2024 film Sting and who plays her younger self, did an excellent job, making Anya’s performance even more disappointing. Since Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a prequel to Fury Road and Anya’s character was previously portrayed by Charlize Theron, comparisons are inevitable. Charlize Theron, one of the best actresses of our time, carried the film on her own, while Anya Taylor-Joy oddly did not fit the role at all. Her prominent lips and big eyes kept her from transforming into one of the desperate individuals of the Wasteland. Even worse, the actress with a voice that can give you goosebumps had very little dialogue, which was described as a point of pride, further diminishing her presence. I never thought I would write such a critique about Anya Taylor-Joy, but unfortunately, she did not suit the character at all. Conversely, the film benefitted Chris Hemsworth. Despite portraying another comedic character, he successfully shed his Thor persona and became someone different. Charlee Fraser, with her brief but impactful screen time, is also one of the film’s winners.

So, is the film truly bad? Certainly not. The action in the initial convoy scene was successful enough to vividly bring to mind the first film. However, despite good intentions, Quaden Bayles’ irrelevance in this action scene is quite jarring. Not only his irrelevance but also the glaringly obvious green screen mentioned earlier is a problem. The film deepens the universe by introducing and showing the dynamics of the cities mentioned in the first film. The focus on the different clans and their interdependent lifestyles is also well-executed. As a film to understand the universe, it is actually quite good, but the path to the crescendo lacks impact. It would be an unfair exaggeration to call it a bad film, but unfortunately, I cannot say it is impressive either. I say this without making a comparison because it is not on the same level as the original. The reason is George Miller’s weak technical execution and jarring editing.

In summary, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, especially in terms of technical execution, has serious flaws and, when compared to the original, is like an angel fallen from Valhalla, stripped of its aluminum. The film’s editing issues, glaring green screens, and appropriately tedious storyline significantly diminish the viewing pleasure. Usually, in such cases, the lead actor’s superb performance saves the day, but in a shocking twist, Anya Taylor-Joy, as the weakest link, drags the film down further. Everyone else fits their roles well, but Anya cannot shed the Instagram persona I follow; no amount of black motor soot saves her. I didn’t have high expectations due to the trailer, but I didn’t expect a film with such technical problems either, unfortunately.

Cast & Crew

director: George Miller

writers: George Miller, Nick Lathouris

starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Alyla Browne, Charlee Fraser, Lachy Hulme

USA – AUSTRALIA | 2024 | 149 MINUTES |


Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

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