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On the Road Again

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

From the dust and the waste of the Mad Max Saga has sprung many a fascinating supporting player: The Humungus, Auntie Entity, Immortan Joe. Only one commands an origin story. That look. That arm. That name: Furiosa!

George Miller follows up his epic action masterpiece Fury Road with a look at what made our girl tick, what turns of event turned her into the baddest of all badasses.

Writing again with Nick Lathouris, who co-write Fury Road, Miller invests more time in plotting than usual, creating a 15-year odyssey rather than a breathless and breakneck few day adventure.

Young Furiosa (Alyla Browne, Sting) is taken from the storied Green Place by scavengers, eventually landing in the care of vainglorious leader of the marauders, Dr. Dementus (Chris Hemsworth, creating a fascinating mix of loquacious pretension, reckless machismo and prosthetic nose). It’s the first stop of many on the savvy, silent one’s wearying journey toward fulfilling the two promises: the one she made her mother to return, and the sacred oath all in the Green Place make to keep the location forever secret.

Years pass, and Anya-Taylor Joy straps on the arm and the attitude for this prequel, her arc a suitable evolution from scrappy kid to determined adult to the undeniable warrior Charlize Theron perfected in the last go-round.

Miller remains as true to his vision of the wasteland as he was back in ’79’s original Mad Max, but there is a depth to the storytelling here that sets it apart. We’ve had four films to see what turned Max Rockatansky mad, made him what he is. Now Miller lays out a single story that serves as both a thrilling prelude to Fury Road and a rich origin story in its own right.

Plot does not take a front seat to action, though, so strap in for more glorious road wars.

Again wielding his patented punch-in closeups like a heavy metal power chord, Miller keeps a palpable sense of frenzied motion. War rigs take to the barren terrain while all manner of air and ground assaults constantly threaten from every direction. Miller and cinematographer Simon Duggan craft a wonderfully rich visual playground, while Fury Road editors Eliot Knapman and Margaret Sixel (Miller’s wife) return to make sure this trip feels equally immersive.

The very nature of this installment’s origin story removes the chance for the kind of singular narrative mission that helped elevate Fury Road to all-time great action heights. But anyone who took that ride knew there had to be a helluva story behind that buzz cut and metal arm.

There is, and Furiosa brings it right up to where the last journey began, in an often spectacular fashion that demands nothing less than the big screen.