MAY 25 ― When Mad Max: Fury Road crashed into movie screens worldwide around nine years ago, I don’t think anyone expected the masterpiece that it turned out to be.

This is especially considering how the Mad Max trilogy ended with a whimper after the third film, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, more or less spoiled the great memories that the first two films gave to the public.

In this age of franchise cash grabs, it’s really easy to grow weary of any new sequels, prequels and reboots and think of them as nothing more than another lazy attempt by the Hollywood machine to score some easy money from the unsuspecting public.


But that’s the thing with masterpieces, it makes following them up a much harder, and maybe even impossible task.

Because Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was the film that came before Mad Max: Fury Road, and with director George Miller mostly churning out kiddie movies (but admittedly excellent ones) like Babe: Pig in the City and the Happy Feet films right before it, only the most optimistic of Mad Max fans would’ve hoped for the kind of excellence that the first two Mad Max films had because, let’s be honest here, that kind of energetic mayhem is more of a young man’s game and Miller was already 70 years old by the time Mad Max: Fury Road was released.

And because it’s Mad Max: Fury Road that came before Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which is a prequel that tells the story of how the Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road, and played here by Alyla Browne as a child and Anya Taylor-Joy as an adult) came to be, it can’t help but have a lot to live up to, maybe even too much.


Setting this one as an origin story is already a bit of a dangerous step for Miller and co-writer Nick Lathouris, because origin stories will necessitate a lot of explaining and expansions of narrative, which is not something that the Mad Max movies are known for.

In fact, people love these Mad Max movies for how lean and mean they are, and how their meaning actually comes from all the action mayhem, that’s what makes them so special and unique in the history of cinema.

Furiosa, I’m less than enthused to report, is definitely not lean and mean.

Actress Anya Taylor-Joy poses after the screening of the film ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 15, 2024. ― AFP pic
Actress Anya Taylor-Joy poses after the screening of the film ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 15, 2024. ― AFP pic

Spanning about 15 years, it has a very episodic narrative, which is divided into five chapters, with each chapter taking up around 30 minutes of screen time.

We begin with how Furiosa was kidnapped as a kid, and see her grow from initially being raised by her captor Dementus (Chris Hemsworth having the time of his life chewing the scenery) to then being passed on to Immortan Joe, the main villain from Fury Road, before Anya Taylor-Joy finally appears after almost an hour into the movie and we then get to see the adult Furiosa grow into the badass heroine that we all loved in Fury Road when she was played by Charlize Theron.

At almost two and a half hours long, that really is a lot of story and plot for a Mad Max movie.

Even though the storytelling was done very well, and both Browne and Taylor-Joy did excellently with their mostly silent turns and very expressive eyes, there are quite a few downsides to this approach that takes away from how great this movie can be.

Most glaringly, there is a lot of dodgy CGI being used here, too much even, that it can really take you out of the movie because of how fake things look.

One of the great joys of Fury Road was how grounded the action scenes felt, because almost everything was done by way of practical stunts, with CGI only used to enhance or cover up certain things like wires, or to erase certain things from the frame or background.

In short, if somebody jumped from a truck while it’s in motion, or from car to car, someone actually did it, and it really did look like someone did so.

No matter how advanced the technology in CGI is, action fans will always be able to tell if something is being performed for real, or if it’s added in post-production after hanging some people upside down in front of a green screen.

The weight that comes with actual laws of physics is just something that CGI has not been able to replicate, no matter how expensive a movie’s costs are.

And this is something that is glaringly obvious throughout Furiosa, which makes it extra disappointing because we know how cool things can look because of what we saw in Fury Road.

And not only was there too much use of CGI here, but there is surprisingly very little action when compared to other Mad Max movies.

Compared to Fury Road, which was more or less full throttle in terms of action with so many big action set-pieces that I just stopped counting, Furiosa has just one spectacular action set-piece, with only about two others on a much smaller scale.

That huge action set-piece, involving an attack on a shiny two-section tanker from all sides, involving not only motorbikes and cars but also paragliders and what looks like an improvised mini zeppelin, was not only a spectacularly awesome action set-piece, but also a truly ingenious way to introduce Furiosa to another important character, Praetorian Jack (a soulful Tom Burke), which is what these Mad Max movies do best, telling stories through action.

It’s just such a shame that there aren’t more of this in the film, which would have elevated this towards action Valhalla, the same way it did for Fury Road.

This is not to say that Furiosa is a bad movie or a disappointment. It’s still one of the year’s better movies and one of the best prequels out there, but knowing what came before, we know it could’ve been so much more, and that’s a bit of a shame.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.