MOVIES

It’s No Fury Road, But Still A Lovely Day

Where “Mad Max: Fury Road” was one big fast-paced, almost non-stop chase sequence built on the bones of a simple yet powerful sci-fi allegory, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is almost its photo negative — a slower, more narratively complicated post-apocalyptic epic spanning many years, with many smaller fights and chases interspersed as flavoring. The film is divided into five episodic chapters, tracking the life of Furiosa (played by Alyla Browne as a child and Anya Taylor-Joy as an adult) from her childhood abduction from The Green Place to the point where she reaches “Beyond Vengeance” and kickstarts the events of the next movie.

Along the way, George Miller gets to indulge in one of the things he’s best at: making up fascinatingly weird dudes whose elaborate backstories exist just offscreen. Many of your favorite weird guys from “Fury Road” are back: The People Eater (John Howard), Rictus Erectus (Nathan Jones), The Bullet Farmer (Lee Perry). We even get Scrotus (Josh Hellman) from the 2015 “Mad Max” video game, in case you were wondering if that was canon. But then there’s plenty of new weird dudes to obsess over. There’s The History Man (George Shevtsov), the film’s narrator and a human encyclopedia preserving all known history in his clothes and tattoos. There’s The Octoboss (Goran Kleut), a biker gang leader with an octopus aesthetic and minions who use homemade Da Vinci-style flying machines. And there’s a War Boy named Pissboy (Darcy Bryce), who drinks piss!

The biggest and loudest presence of all of these new weird dudes is Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), the main villain who’s loathsome enough to explain why Furiosa would ever strategically side with “Fury Road” villain Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme). Hemsworth brings some of the humor that enlivened Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this teddy bear-carrying scam-happy warlord, and mixes that humor with a sense of unadulterated ruthless cruelty. He steals the show here similar to how Charlize Theron’s Furiosa did in “Fury Road.”

Amidst this colorful supporting cast, Furiosa herself spends much of the movie bearing her name a more muted presence — literally so, as she refuses to speak for much of the movie. Browne and Taylor-Joy deliver almost their entire performances just through the looks in their eyes, with the latter mostly only talking in her relationship-building scenes with Praetorian Jack (Tom Jacke) and her final showdown against Dementus. From interviews with Taylor-Joy, it sounds like this role was punishing to perform, but she nails the character’s evolution: the transition between Browne and Taylor-Joy’s segments is so seamless you feel like you’re watching the same person grow up over time, and Taylor-Joy’s portrayal grows into a perfect match for Theron’s by the film’s conclusion.

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