'Furiosa' Review: A Fine Movie but Unnecessary

Chris Hemsworth was the best part.

Aaron Pruner Writer
Aaron covers what's exciting and new in the world of home entertainment and streaming TV. Previously, he wrote about entertainment for places like Rotten Tomatoes, Inverse, TheWrap and The Hollywood Reporter. Aaron is also an actor and stay-at-home dad, which means coffee is his friend.
Aaron Pruner
4 min read

Chris Hemsworth is Lord Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Jasin Boland

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga returns audiences to George Miller's Wasteland for another metal-grinding, vengeful trip into the post-apocalyptic maw. This time around, the focal point is Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) -- the character initially played by Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road opposite Tom Hardy's Max Rockatansky. Furiosa, which drops in theaters everywhere on May 24, is her origin story: A two-and-a-half-hour CGI-infused thrill ride packed to the dusty brim with explosive stunts, gas-guzzling chase sequences and larger-than-life characters. 

The action, world-building, Taylor-Joy's stoic performance and Chris Hemsworth's deliciously devilish turn as mustache-twirling baddie Lord Dementus are all worth the price of admission. Spectacle can only get you so far, though. With Fury Road, Mad Max mastermind Miller reached the proverbial mountaintop. While Furiosa scratches the itch for fans everywhere, there's insufficient fuel in the tank. If you look at the four-decade-long franchise from afar, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga feels unnecessary.

Read more: Where to Stream All the 'Mad Max' Movies Before 'Furiosa'

Mad Max: Fury Road has the lead character's name in the title. When all was said and done, that movie was carried by Theron's performance and Furiosa's enduring escape mission. In that long-awaited sequel/franchise reboot, audiences followed the hardened, robotic arm-wielding warrior as she ventured to smuggle Immortan Joe's (Hugh Keays-Byrne) abused wives away from his towering Citadel.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a straightforward narrative that hurtles through the vast expanse of desert with unparalleled intensity. The film is a continuous, high-octane car chase, with the kinetic energy reaching unprecedented levels right from the start. While Furiosa's introduction sets a similar tone, the story maintains a more traditional structure and pace, leaning on exposition to keep the audience up to speed.

It's fine. It's no Fury Road. 

furiosa holds a gun and defends the war rig

Anya Taylor-Joy stars in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

Jasin Boland

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga turns the calendar back multiple decades to focus on the titular hero's childhood and her blood-spattered, grease-stained journey from an innocent young girl to the Imperator warrior she'll eventually become. Taylor-Joy technically stars in the film -- and she does a decent enough job silently emoting through most of it -- yet it takes nearly half the movie's running time for her to even show up. 

Instead, we're introduced to Alyla Browne as young Furiosa. She's taken by a gang of marauders from her abundant home, filled with lush forests, ample food and water, to the roughshod camp of Lord Dementus. 

Regarding movie highlights, one thing is sure: Hemsworth's unhinged warlord stands out. Does he chew the scenery every minute he's on-screen? Absolutely. Is his character the post-apocalyptic version of Snidely Whiplash? Most definitely. Furiosa's name may be in the title of this one, but Hemsworth is the breakout. If there was a vehicle to help free him of those nasty Marvel doldrums, this would be it.

Furiosa's beef is with Dementus. He obliterated her childhood. But when Dementus and Immortan Joe meet, a political power struggle for control of the Wasteland begins. A conflict between two magnetic, bizarre, power-hungry baddies is always fun to watch, but it distracts a bit from Furiosa's mission. The face-off between Dementus and Joe offers an intriguing new angle on a franchise hell-bent on repetitively following a lone hero into wild, good-vs-evil, end-of-the-world battles for survival. 

dementus holds a gun in the wasteland

Chris Hemsworth is Lord Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

Jasin Boland

Furiosa is a big movie, chock full of many moving parts. The awe-inspiring visual effects that won Fury Road an Oscar are here. The stunt work is jaw-dropping; the pale, devoted War Boys still dive gloriously to their fiery deaths. Ghastly hordes of goons continue to build out the universe Miller spawned back in 1979. 

It's all here. There's a weariness to the gear-grinding spectacle. 

That may be due to the release order of the last two Mad Max movies. The script for Furiosa was complete before production on Fury Road began over a decade ago. Theron's story arc in the celebrated sequel is thoroughly satisfying, and knowing Furiosa's fate in that movie deflates a fair share of emotional stakes for Taylor-Joy's hero journey to fire on all cylinders. If Furiosa hit theaters first, maybe we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

It's cool to see where Furiosa comes from, how she gets to the Citadel, and why she has that robotic arm. The near-decade wait for her full standalone tale to see the light of day may have helped water things down. 

All this nitpicking aside, the movie gets the job done. It gives us a Wasteland warrior to root for and a ludicrously maniacal Hemsworth to marvel at. It's not all shiny and chrome, but Miller's post-apocalypse is still as crazed and cranked up as he left it and the urgent pacing hits the mark more than it misses.

It may not be a necessary addition to the franchise, but Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga still rocks. Just nowhere near as hard as Fury Road.