One of the first lines of dialogue in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a question: “As the world falls around us, how must we brave its cruelties?”

Across its 148-minute running time, Furiosa offers various responses to that inquiry, presenting a post-apocalyptic set of scenarios bound in blood, gasoline, and bullets. Ultimately, the film settles on hope—however foolish it may seem—as the only way forward. The desolation of what’s old, it insists, can make a way for ‘all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

George Miller returns to direct this spinoff and prequel to his thunderous 2015 epic, Mad Max: Fury Road. That film took place over the course of three days and two nights; Furiosa occurs over almost two decades, told in five pulse-pounding chapters. Miller takes his time exploring the transformation of an innocent young girl into the liberation warrior we find in Fury Road.

We first meet an adolescent Furiosa (Alyla Browne) with her mother (Charlee Fraser) in their home, the Green Place of Many Mothers. The rest of the world is a barren wasteland, ravaged by the compounding effects of climate change and nonstop warfare. The Green Place, by contrast, is a literal Garden of Eden, rife with foliage, wildlife, and fresh water. In a playful riff on the Genesis story, Furiosa opens the film by picking a ripe peach from a tree.

All too soon, paradise is lost. Marauders kidnap Furiosa, seeking to bring knowledge of the Green Place to their leader, Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), a cruel and histrionic warlord who dreams of plundering the abundance for himself. Unable to save her daughter, Furiosa’s mother gives her a peach pit to remember home by and urges her to find her way back. From the moment Furiosa is forced into Dementus’s muscled coterie, she schemes and fights to return to the garden.

This extended allusion to Genesis sets the stage for Furiosa’s surprising spiritual heft. In this incendiary, “post-Fall” world, to live is hell and to kill is gain; evil is real, and redemption is desperately sought. Apocalypse is now—but that might not be all bad.

The word apocalypse, especially in movies, often connotes wanton destruction, horror, and violence with no end in sight. But the word’s origins are more nuanced. The Greek word apocalypsis is frequently translated as “a revelation.” In biblical times, apocalyptic literature served “as an intensified form of prophecy.” Critic Alissa Wilkinson and scholar Robert Joustra expand on this idea in How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World. The apocalypse, they write, “renews as it destroys; with its destruction it brings an epiphany about the universe, the gods, or God.”

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Apocalypses create realizations that can only come with razing. The disruption they cause is not change in and of itself; but it does provide the foundations for change to be built upon. Apocalyptic revelation—even revelation of injustice, misery, and sin—is always an invitation to build something new.

Held captive and forced to serve different warlords, Furiosa realizes that the tyrants she’s ruled by have no desire to do anything new with the apocalypse they’ve been given. The vile men waging war for the planet’s resources, including Dementus and Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme), merely recapitulate the same cruelty and barbarism that led to the world’s destruction in the first place, hoarding scarce goods for themselves rather than imagining a more communitarian alternative. When Furiosa is captured by Dementus after one of her many escape attempts, he sneers at her: “Where were [you] going, so full of hope? There is no hope!”

At the film’s climax, Dementus and Joe wage a scorched-earth war, launching the full brunt of their forces at each other. Instead of shooting a typical action scene, Miller frames this battle as a montage; it’s not clear who’s winning, or even whose army belongs to whom. The carnage caused by two small-minded rulers is both brutal and meaningless.

As Furiosa ages (actress Anya Taylor-Joy steps in to play the older character), her weariness and despair deepen. And yet she also realizes that true tragedy would be resigning herself to fatalism. Resolving to move forward without “the old ways” of revenge and malice, she puts aside corrupt cravings for power and commits to different motivations. The world won’t be saved by repeating what’s been done before. And apocalypse alone isn’t sufficient; she’ll have to take action.

When Jesus began his earthly ministry, his gospel was so radical as to be considered destructive by the powers that were. His message of an upside-down kingdom (Matt. 20:16), his radical solidarity with those who were overlooked and oppressed by the empire (Mark 2:15), went against the dominant worldviews of his day. Even his closest disciples rebuked him; even they did not understand his teachings (Mark 8:30–33). It was easier for them to imagine Jesus’ deliverance working within the framework they already knew; they couldn’t envision how transformative and total Jesus’ vision for the world would be.

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Whether Jesus was healing on days of his choosing (Luke 6:6–11) or dining with society’s outcasts (5:27–3), his seeming disregard for the law was not transgression for transgression’s sake. He came to be a greater fulfillment of those laws; his radical amplification of their commands—including extending the definition of who one’s “neighbor” is—was an invitation to a new way of living.

This invitation is the same to the believer today. The work of bringing God’s kingdom does not end simply when we get rid of evil, but rather when we build better things in its place. And (without spoiling too much) it’s exactly this kind of building that the last scene of Furiosa evokes.

In Furiosa’s final standoff with Dementus, he sardonically commends her for learning the lessons of brutality and resilience he’s taught. “I’ve been waiting for someone like me,” he says as Furiosa faces him. “We’re just two evil bastards in the wasteland. … We are the already dead.”

This comparison gives Furiosa pause; she realizes that she’s seeing what she could become. While her arc won’t be complete until Fury Road—she creates a utopia where the captives are free (Is. 61:1), the hungry are fed (Matt. 25:35), and the stranger is welcomed (Deut. 10:18)—by Furiosa’s end, we see the beginnings of her revelation.

Oftentimes, after a climactic action sequence (in particular, a standoff between Furiosa and some raiders that takes place on a truck under siege) Tom Holkenborg’s rattling score decrescendos to a whisper. We’re left with the ambient sounds of the desert, the scorching sun upon the sands, and scraps of blue sky peeking through the smog and smoke.

In these moments of quiet beholding, the words God spoke to the prophet Isaiah come to mind: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (43:19). Possibility may persist in our own wastelands, if only we’d have eyes to see and ears to hear. Not all is dead here. We plant our peach pit, and wait for it to grow.

Zachary Lee serves as the Managing Editor at The Center for Public Justice. He writes about media, faith, technology, and the environment.