A star rating of 5 out of 5.

"Start your engines." So goes the cry in George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, a film that not only fires up its motor, but slams its foot on the accelerator and rarely lets up.


The fifth film in Miller’s long-running post-apocalyptic saga, it’s the first without Max Rockatansky, the Road Warrior played by Mel Gibson in the original trilogy and Tom Hardy in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road.

Instead, the focus is Furiosa, Fury Road’s badass female (originally played by Charlize Theron) who masterminded an escape from the Citadel for her and a posse of women belonging to the foul ruler Immortan Joe.

Divided into five chapters, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga spans the 15 years before Fury Road, bringing us the titular heroine’s origin story.

Played by Alyla Browne in these early scenes, the young Furiosa is captured and taken to Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), a man as demented as his name suggests.

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After torturing and killing her mother in front of her, he wants Furiosa to lead him to her home, an idyllic land of plenty far from the Wasteland, the parched wilderness where inhabitants fight for the precious little food, water and petrol that exists.

Refusing to speak, Furiosa stays mute, although things change when Dementus and his men rock up to the Citadel in the hope of toppling Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme).

After a stand-off, Dementus is forced to give over Furiosa to prevent all-out war. From here, Miller shifts the action on a good few years – with one of the most brilliant 'passing of time' transitions you’ll ever see, involving a branch and a discarded hairpiece – with Furiosa now a young woman (with Last Night in Soho’s Anya Taylor-Joy replacing Browne).

One thing hasn’t changed over these intervening years: Furiosa desperately wants to avenge her mother’s death and take Dementus down.

But before that, she’s paired with Praetorian Jack (Strike star Tom Burke), who has successfully driven the tanker-style War Rig along Fury Road more than anyone else.

This leads to the film’s showstopping action sequence, a simply staggering scene as the armoured vehicle is attacked in an aerial bombardment. Featuring flying motorbikes and parachuting assailants, it’s a thrilling assault on the senses.

While Burke’s Max-like stand-in promises to teach Furiosa the art of road war – a plotline that doesn’t truly get developed – the film morphs into a Call of Duty-style shoot-'em-up when the story takes us to the Bullet Farm.

Dubbed the "third fortress of the Wasteland", this abandoned lead mine near to the Citadel is the perfect stage for another stellar set-piece, including that stunning shot (seen in the trailer) where Dementus is scrabbling for safety as hundreds of bullet shells pour over him.

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Although Furiosa doesn’t finish with an enormous bang, the final act has a gnarly twist to it, one that recalls Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. It’s an intriguing way to conclude this gargantuan film – one that truly flies despite the absence of Mad Max himself.

Throughout, Miller ably marshals a fully-committed cast. The likes of Hemsworth and Burke bring the film alive, as, of course, do Browne and Taylor-Joy, showing Furiosa in all her glory – although Charlize Theron’s grit and guts are rather missed.

Aesthetically, the film is exemplary. When Fury Road hit the Academy Awards, it claimed six Oscars – and there’s no reason why this prequel can’t do the same.

The costumes, the production design and the cinematography are all top-notch, fully immersing you in Miller’s evocative resource-scarce Wasteland.

Brilliantly executed from start to finish, this is a Hollywood blockbuster against which all others must be measured. Mad, indeed.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is released in UK cinemas on Friday 24th May 2024.


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