Home Entertainment Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga – FIRST REVIEW: It’s absolutely stunning to look at, decidedly loud to the ear and a thousand-watt jolt to the spirit, says BRIAN VINER in Cannes

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga – FIRST REVIEW: It’s absolutely stunning to look at, decidedly loud to the ear and a thousand-watt jolt to the spirit, says BRIAN VINER in Cannes

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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga had its world premiere last night at the Cannes Film Festival

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

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There may be another actress under 30 with a more varied and exciting set of credits than Anya Taylor-Joy, but if there is, it’s hard to think who. And now, to the chess prodigy he played in the hit TV drama The Queen’s Gambit, the possessed 17th-century Puritan in The Witch (2015), and the abused 1960s nightclub singer in Last Night In Soho (2021), adds a post- Apocalyptic Warrior Queen. It was probably just a matter of time.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which had its world premiere last night at the Cannes Film Festival, is an absolute marvel from start to finish, a worthy prequel to the high-octane 2015 blockbuster, Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s absolutely dazzling to the eye, decidedly loud to the ear, and a thousand-watt jolt to the spirit. I loved.

Taylor-Joy is fabulous as Furiosa, the alpha female with a lot to be furious about, as is Alyla Browne, who plays the lead role as a girl.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga had its world premiere last night at the Cannes Film Festival

Taylor-Joy is fabulous as Furiosa, the alpha female with a lot to be furious about. Anya Taylor-Joy at the Martinez Hotel during the 77th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Taylor-Joy is fabulous as Furiosa, the alpha female with a lot to be furious about. Anya Taylor-Joy at the Martinez Hotel during the 77th Annual Cannes Film Festival

It's absolutely dazzling to the eye, decidedly loud to the ear, and a thousand-watt jolt to the spirit. Elsa Pataky and Chris Hemsworth attend the premiere of Furiosa: The Mad Max Saga

It’s absolutely dazzling to the eye, decidedly loud to the ear, and a thousand-watt jolt to the spirit. Elsa Pataky and Chris Hemsworth attend the premiere of Furiosa: The Mad Max Saga

But, as always, the award laurels belong to Australian director George Miller, now in his late 80s and still firmly in charge of the gas-soaked dystopian world he created 45 years ago in the original Mad Max.

Here, a voiceover tells us that “gangs are roaming like locusts all over the country.” Frankly, it would be disappointing if they weren’t. Miller needs marauding gangs like other storytellers need star-crossed lovers.

Without subtlety or brazenness, it draws on classic Westerns like John Ford’s 1956 masterpiece, The Searchers, to establish the story of the young and feisty Furiosa, kidnapped from an oasis of peace by broken Hell’s Angel types who her found sabotaging their bicycles. Finally, with her formidable mother (Charlee Fraser) frantically pursuing her across an arid desert, she falls into the hands of the charismatic, messianic warlord Dementus, exhilaratingly played by a barely recognizable Chris Hemsworth as a cross between El Cid and Charles. Manson.

You don't need to be an oil enthusiast to enjoy this seductively crazy vision of hordes of rival bikers at war over oil.

You don’t need to be an oil enthusiast to enjoy this seductively crazy vision of hordes of rival bikers at war over oil.

If you appreciate first-class escapism, presented with tremendous swagger, then this film is well worth two and a half hours of your time.

If you appreciate first-class escapism, presented with tremendous swagger, then this film is well worth two and a half hours of your time.

Miller needs marauding gangs like other storytellers need star-crossed lovers.

Miller needs marauding gangs like other storytellers need star-crossed lovers.

Chris Hemsworth plays the warlord leader, Dementus, who he described as

Chris Hemsworth plays the warlord leader, Dementus, whom he described as “a very violent, crazy, brutal person born from the Wasteland” (pictured)

You only need to scan the cast list to see how much fun Miller and his co-writer Nico Lathouris had with all of this: The Organic Mechanic, The People Eater, Rakka the Brackish, The Octoboss, Smeg, Fang, Scrotus, Treadmill Rat. And as if there weren’t already tons of options for motorcycle enthusiasts to savour, there’s also a Mr Norton and a Mr Harley.

I should add that you don’t have to be an oil enthusiast to enjoy this seductively crazy vision of hordes of rival bikers warring over oil and whatever else they can find to fuel their feud; I’m not. In fact, I’ve admitted before that I don’t know a Harley Davidson from a Jim Davidson. But if you value first-class escapism, presented with tremendous swagger, then this film is well worth two and a half hours of your time.

Back to the plot. Furious, she finds a brave ally, Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), who agrees to teach her the secrets of “road warfare” as she attempts to flee this hell and return to the Green Place of Many Mothers, where she came from. . But she also has revenge on her mind. “You have a determined savagery,” Jack tells Furiosa, approvingly. It’s a line that exemplifies a script written with intelligence and wit. “There is no shame in hate,” Dementus says later. “It is one of the great forces of nature.”

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a worthy prequel to the high-octane 2015 blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a worthy prequel to the high-octane 2015 blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road

There may be another actress under 30 with a more varied and exciting set of credits than Anya Taylor-Joy, but if there is, it's hard to think who.

There may be another actress under 30 with a more varied and exciting set of credits than Anya Taylor-Joy, but if there is, it’s hard to think who

Creator George Miller returns to direct this origin story for Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron in the previous film.

Creator George Miller returns to direct this origin story for Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron in the previous film.

Hatred and the need to control this wasteland is what drives Dementus into a war with his enemy Immortan Joe, with Furiosa and Jack caught in the thunderous crossfire.

We met Joe for the first time in Mad Max: Fury Road and, although he is now played by another actor (Lachy Hulme, after the death of Hugh Keays-Byrne in 2020), he once again resembles, if it is possible to imagine it, Hannibal Lecter crossed with the late Peter Stringfellow. I know it’s another cross to bear, but the film itself is some kind of crazy hybrid: western, biblical epic, sci-fi fantasy, Top Gear on steroids, looking as if the design brief had been given to Salvador Dali.

Miller admitted this week, by the way, that the set of Fury Road a decade ago was a deeply unhappy place, marked by tension between co-stars Charlize Theron, who played the mature Furiosa so splendidly, and a recalcitrant Tom Hardy. Thank goodness Miller didn’t get hooked. This is the best event cinema, the success of the Cannes Film Festival so far.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga opens in UK cinemas on May 24.

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