Furiosa : A Mad Max Saga Review - A Sumptuous Meal offered by Miller's Impressive Visual Storytelling and Anya's Powerful Screen Presence

Furiosa remains true to its title by focusing on Furiosa's antagonists and vendettas rather than having her share the screen with Max, and the plot is brought to life by more than one actor. Theron was not invited back to reprise the role, and the film begins with little Furiosa (played with precocious passion by Alyla Browne) being kidnapped from her home in the Green Place of Many Mothers by the wild-eyed Warlord Dementus (a practically unrecognizable chris Hemsworth). Interestingly, Anya Taylor-Joy does not appear until almost halfway through the film.

It's unclear to me if the actors studied Theron's portrayal before filming, or if Miller's attention to detail on set played a role. Still, both incarnations of Furiosa were a true depiction of the character who was so masterfully built in Fury Road. The film is in a delicate position since it feels like a different beast than its predecessors, even though knowledge of the Mad Max franchise is required to comprehend it fully, but observant viewers will be amply rewarded for their efforts.

Much has been made of Taylor-Joy's scant 30 lines of conversation in Furiosa, but she is not an actor who relies on words to convey her message, and tales in the Mad Max world rarely do. What's even more surprising is how the young Browne (previously seen in Nine Perfect Strangers) fits so well into such a complicated role. Fans of simple narrative may need to bring along ending explainers and companion comics to enjoy the film. Still, for the rest of us, Miller's sumptuous photography wonderfully compliments Furiosa's lethal, but silent, glares.

Aside from Miller's typical minimalist storytelling, the plot depicted in Furiosa is intrinsically related to Fury Road, despite its much later release. This is typical of a prequel, of course, but it is unusual for the Mad Max world because it is a film that has only a brief sight of the franchise's protagonist. Though Furiosa more than holds her own, particularly when Miller's script fleshes out her frightening background with Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme replaces Hugh Keays-Byrne), the tone is markedly different from the first film.

Every villain is the hero of their narrative, and no one believes this more deeply than Dementus. Dementus, Immortan Joe's opponent, promises to be able to provide his people with a route out of the hunger and poverty caused by The Citadel's tyranny. While many of his followers believe he will lead them to a world of plenty, his violent and heartless treatment of Furiosa and her mother demonstrates that he is not much different from his deadliest adversary.

Despite Dementus' harsh and frequently dishonest temperament, Hemsworth imbues his character with a lighthearted humor that might feel like an oasis in the desert. Instead of conflicting with the film's self-serious tone, Dementus' larger-than-life and raucous character emphadata-sizes why he would be a source of hope for so many, evoking the irresistible attractiveness of many real-world cult leaders. Hemsworth's performance complements Taylor-Joy's ferocious stoicism, and the tension between their characters reaches a gratifying peak during their last meeting.

Furiosa manages to carve its valuable place in the world of Mad Max, more than justifying its existence as a standalone movie while still throwing a few surprising bones to fans of franchise continuity.

Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


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