Furiosa review: Anya Taylor-Joy awes in this bold yet episodic prequel

The film is released in cinemas on Friday, 24 May

Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which tells the titular character's origin story before the events of Fury Road. (Warner Bros.)
Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which tells the titular character's origin story before the events of Fury Road. (Warner Bros.)

George Miller returns to one of his greatest creations, Furiosa, in this epic, all-guns-blazing prequel to 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road.

The movie stars Anya Taylor-Joy and Alyla Browne in the title role, taking the baton from Charlize Theron to tell the road warrior's origin story. Miller conceived the idea for the film at the same time as Fury Road and it is clear that both are meant to be seen as a double feature, but even on its own the film is a thrilling, deeply satisfying look at how a legend was born.

Read more: What happened between Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy on Mad Max: Fury Road set?

Set in the 15 years before Fury Road, the film opens with Browne's Furiosa being snatched away from her family and the idyllic utopian society they live in, she's taken to Dementus —the brash, bonkers villain played gleefully by Chris Hemsworth— who takes her under his proverbial wing. This isn't something she wants, of course, and so begins her quest to find her way back home as she tries to navigate this dark and brutal world.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth, is coming to cinemas in 2024. (Warner Bros.)
Anya Taylor-Joy is awe-inspiring in the film despite how few lines she has, conveying so much through her stares and snarls. (Warner Bros.)

Told in chapters, Furiosa is a different beast to Fury Road. It feels a lot more episodic than its predecessor because of Miller and Nick Lathouris' approach to the script, and while it has some impressive action sequences they are more sparingly used than the relentless 2015 film.

Instead of relying on big loud action, Miller chooses to hone in on the more intimate journey that Furiosa is going through, letting us in on her pain and her struggle to survive. The audience are able to get a better understanding of the character and her struggles as a result, but the stop-and-start rhythm of the storytelling can make it difficult to really invest in it.

Regardless, Browne does a phenomenal job of lending an innocence to Furiosa, holding her own well opposite A-list stars like Hemsworth until Taylor-Joy takes over. The Queen's Gambit stars is a worthy leader, and she shows less is more in the role.

With only 30 lines of dialogue throughout the film, her performance is almost all conveyed through a look or a snarl and it's impressive to see what she can achieve with so little.

Watch: Anya Taylor-Joy had a 'tough time' filming 78-day Furiosa action scene

Hemsworth for his part does well as Dementus, a villain so ridiculous you can't help but be amused by him, and the Thor star plays him for laughs well. It would have been more impactful had the character been menacing rather than a jokster, but Hemsworth thrives in the role even so.

Read more: Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga makes Cannes debut with rave reviews

This brings us to the other big villain of the piece, Immortan Joe, who proved such a terrifying presence in Fury Road. Played by Lachy Hulme, Immortan Joe is still a big presence in Furiosa thanks to the actor's penetrating stares and generally intimidating nature, Hulme does well filling the shoes of the late great Hugh Keays-Byrne but one can't help but think that he isn't quite as dastardly as he should be given what he's like in the 2015 film.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth, is coming to cinemas in 2024. (Warner Bros.)
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus, the brash, bonkers villain that the Thor actor plays so gleefully. (Warner Bros.)

Furiosa's action, as mentioned, is big and bold if used sparingly when compared to Fury Road's non-stop narrative. One of the most unique scenes of the film is in the middle of the film, which sees Furiosa use her skills to fight off a rival biker gang when the war rig she is travelling on is being attacked. It has a lot of moving parts, and sees Taylor-Joy do a lot of the heavy lifting — it is an awe-inspiring sequence and definitely the high point of the film (so it is a shame it happens so early on).

Furiosa is a powerful film, one that is a worthy addition to the Mad Max franchise that will undoubtedly excite fans. While it isn't as hard-hitting as Fury Road because of its episodic format, Taylor-Joy and Browne are both a wonder to watch and it is a joy to witness Furiosa in this new chapter of her legacy.

  • 🎞️ When is it out: In cinemas from Friday, 24 May

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 4/5

  • 🎭 Who's in it? Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Alyla Browne, Lachy Hulme.

  • 👍 What we liked: Anya Taylor-Joy and Alyla Browne's interpretation of Furiosa, the big action sequences and the moving narrative.

  • 👎 What we didn't: The episodic nature of the storytelling makes it difficult to get into the story.

  • 📖 What's it about? 15 years before the events of Fury Road, Furiosa is taken from her community by villain Dementus and his gang, and her quest to find a way back to her family is told over the course of the film.

  • ⏱️ How long is it? 2 hours 28 minutes