Furiosa is an Unlikely, Ingenious Counter to Mad Max: Fury Road

Furiosa offers a very different experience than its predecessor.

Warner Bros. Pictures

There's a lot to love about Mad Max: Fury Road. The film, one of the most acclaimed action movies of the century, is an explosion of practical effects wizardry and stunt magic that brings its fiery, deranged post-apocalyptic world to life so tangibly that you can practically feel all the sand, gasoline, and smoke present throughout it. In case that wasn't impressive enough, Fury Road is also a two-hour chase movie that rarely ever stops or slows down. It spans what seems like just a single, 24-hour day and follows its heroes as they try to evade and eventually chase down their enemies.

The film's propulsiveness is one of its most beloved qualities, which is why it may come as a surprise to some to see director George Miller adopt a completely different approach in his new, long-awaited Fury Road prequel, Furiosa. Set years before the events of its acclaimed 2015 predecessor, Furiosa is a lot of things, but one thing it isn't is an expanded chase movie like Fury Road. It has a much wider scope than that film and covers many more years, and it does so in an unexpectedly segmented manner.

To some, this may come as a disappointment, but it's actually a brilliant stroke of counter-programming genius on the part of Miller.

Furiosa doesn’t rely just on Fury Road’s many tricks, and that’s partly what makes it great.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Unlike Mad Max: Fury Road, which tells one non-stop story from beginning to end, Furiosa adopts a completely different, chapter-based structure. It's an epic that follows Furiosa (first played as a young girl by Alyla Browne, then as a young woman by Anya Taylor-Joy) as she's taken from her home, known only as the Green Place, and consequently set on a difficult, vengeance-fueled path toward reclaiming the freedom she once had. Her journey is split up into multiple chapters, and the film forces you to watch for 148 minutes as Furiosa's quest for revenge is drawn out in stops and starts over two decades.

As a result, Furiosa offers a much different type of viewing experience than Fury Road. While it's often just as explosive and brain-melting as that film, it isn't quite as high-octane or relentless, and that's by design. It's clear that George Miller had no interest in repeating himself with Furiosa. He could have easily tried to replicate in it the same sense of ceaseless forward momentum that he achieved in Fury Road. Instead, he chose to make an odyssey that is long and arduous, and which fully justifies Furiosa's hard-edged demeanor and mental state in Fury Road.

This decision has already proven to be a slightly divisive one, but this writer would argue that it was the right choice for Miller to make. If a prequel is meant to not only answer some of the unresolved questions of its predecessor but also strengthen its story, then it's pretty easy to see exactly how Furiosa does just that for Fury Road.

Furiosa doesn’t just tell us more about its eponymous heroine’s past, but it also deepens and strengthens her story in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Warner Bros. Pictures

It’s unclear right now exactly how well Furiosa will be remembered in comparison to Mad Max: Fury Road. However, there's a strong chance that the grueling backstory Furiosa gives its eponymous heroine is only going to make her journey throughout Fury Road hit that much harder on future rewatches. Fans are finally getting the chance to see the difficult 20-year odyssey that led Furiosa to Fury Road, and that should make her journey in that film just seem all the more like the desperate, Hail Mary culmination to her story that it should.

By going in such a different direction with Furiosa, George Miller has made the perfect companion piece to his 2015 masterpiece.

Furiosa is now playing in theaters.

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