Chris Hemsworth being the best part of a film in 2024 was not on my bingo card. Anya Taylor-Joy may portray the title character in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, a prequel origin story for Charlize Theron's character in Fury Road. But it's Hemsworth who steals George Miller's show.

In fairness, the two play juxtaposed characters. Hemsworth is the accented over-the-top villain, Dementus, leader of the Biker Horde. Taylor-Joy plays the mostly mute, Man with No Name-like Furiosa. Their roles ask different things of their respective actors, and they both knock it out of the park.

But Furiosa's biggest problems aren't its performances or world-building — the Wasteland remains one of the densest worlds in sci-fi — it's the lethargic story and uneven pacing. And while Miller's Fury Road was praised for its action sequences, Furiosa drops the ball.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga review

A still from Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga courtesy of Warner Bros.

The film begins with a young Furiosa (played by Alya Browne) as she picks fruit in the forest of the Green Place of Many Mothers. Unlike most of the Wasteland, this area is flourishing with color.

However, she is captured by the Biker Horde. Her mother, Mary Jo Bassa (Charlee Fraser), attempts to save her. The cold open pursuit takes a large bite out of Miller's 148-minute runtime.

And it's a pretty rad sequence. While Furiosa isn't short on the action, the opening chase sequences are among the film's best. It's also when the film introduces Hemsworth's sinister Dementus, who quickly establishes himself as a character unlike anything the Thor actor has played.

Dementus ends up keeping Furiosa, taking her on his adventures through the Wasteland. He takes a liking to her, wanting to groom her as his successor of sorts.

But upon visiting the Citadel, Dementus loses Furiosa in negotiations with Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme). She is delegated to join the rest of the women being raised to be a wife in the future, a role that she quickly rejects. After narrowly escaping, she poses as a guy in the Citadel until she's a grown woman.

Years later, Furiosa (now played by Taylor-Joy) finds herself in the middle of a conflict between the Citadel and the Biker Horde. This allows her a chance at vengeance as she reencounters Dementus.

Uneven story

Split into five chapters, Furiosa tells the title character's story. This type of storytelling device can work for films. But in the case of Furiosa, George Miller and Nico Lathouris' script is so uneven that dividing it into chapters only further hurts the film.

The first two chapters follow the young Furiosa. This means that Taylor-Joy isn't even in the film until about an hour in. Browne does a great job early in the film as the younger version of Taylor-Joy's character. But the film is sold on Taylor-Joy, and it's strange how much time Miller and Lathouris commit to her in a film over 140 minutes long.

There's nothing worse than villains who disappear in films. Once Taylor-Joy's Furiosa is introduced, Dementus takes a back seat. Now, on one hand, it makes sense since Furiosa has been left at the Citadel. But we don't catch up with Dementus for a while, leaving years to the imagination.

When we catch up with Dementus, he has changed. It's not just the extra grey in his beard, but Dementus has seemingly lost a step as the Biker Horde's leader. While not completely necessary per se, it would have been nice to check in on the Biker Horde here and there.

There's also very little dialogue in the film, which is a testament to Taylor-Joy's performance. That places more emphasis on the story. However, Furiosa is largely dull as it hardly expands the world. Instead, it largely circles back to the things Mad Max fans have already seen.

But, hey, at least they had time for that cameo!

Anya Taylor-Joy's performance

To her credit, Taylor-Joy is a badass in Furiosa. Charlize Theron had a similar transformation in Fury Road. However, there is an extra layer of intensity given the story the film depicts.

She seeks revenge. When she encounters Dementus for the first time in years, it's almost like when Vito returns to Sicily to kill Don Ciccio in The Godfather Part Ii after years.

Unlike Hemsworth, Taylor-Joy can't be over-the-top in the film. She has to anchor the film down in its intensity and does so successfully. Hopefully, this isn't her last adventure in the Wasteland.

The Chris Hemsworth show

Chris Hemsworth in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
A still from Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga courtesy of Warner Bros.

Chris Hemsworth has never been better than he is in Furiosa. One of the most charismatic actors in Hollywood, Hemsworth has largely been delegated to hulking action hero since taking on his MCU role.

While he is a brooding force in Furiosa, Hemsworth spreads his wings with his performance. His high-pitched dialect brings an uneasiness to the role. When he talks to his victims, he comes off as unhinged.

Unlike most antagonists, Hemsworth's Dementus doesn't solely rely on his God complex. Sure, he does suffer from main character syndrome, but he's pure evil at the end of the day, making it impossible not to root for Furiosa.

If Hemsworth was willing to do this type of work in Furiosa, the possibilities are endless for the rest of his career.

Video game-like action

At one point in Furiosa, Chris Hemsworth's Dementus asks, “Do you have it in you to make it epic?

Far be it from me to tell Miller how to direct action — Mad Max: Fury Road is epic — but Furiosa was a letdown in this department.

Yes, the chases largely keep you on the edge of your seat. But I don't remember Fury Road's action feeling like something out of a PS4 game.

At times, the film looks like a video game. It's not simply because the film has CGI-heavy sequences. While the choreography is largely well done, the film simply doesn't look good at certain points. And it's distracting to the point that no IMAX screen can mask.

Should you watch Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga?

In a year when Dune: Part Two — a film with equal scope — came out, it's almost impossible to have any film measure up to Denis Villeneuve's epic. Furiosa is no exception.

George Miller does justice to Charlize Theron's Fury Road character largely thanks to the lead performances from Chris Hemsworth and Anya Taylor-Joy. But the simplistic story gets bogged down with choppy pacing thanks to the five-chapter format. Far too many scenes feel directionless until the third act, which sticks the landing aside from a cameo.

Furiosa isn't the masterpiece that Mad Max fans claimed Fury Road was. The film does kick into gear in the third act, but it's almost too far gone since the first two acts of the film are as dry as the desert in the Wasteland.

Grade: C+

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga will be released on May 24.