Mixed reviews for Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga film

Anya Taylor-Joy
The film tells the origin story of Furiosa [Warner Bros Pictures]

Reviews for Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which has premiered at Cannes Film Festival, have been mixed, with comments varying from “soul-pricklingly primal” to “all spectacle and no vision”.

The fifth film in the Mad Max series is a prequel, starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth, telling the origin story of Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road.

The dystopian action films, created by George Miller, are set in the barren Australian outback, exploring the breakdown of society after an apocalypse.

The Independent called the film “motional, witty and filled with purposeful savagery”, while Variety said it was “ambitious” but “no Fury Road”.

Furiosa cast and crew on red carpet
Director and co-writer George Miller [centre] attended the premiere with cast and crew [Getty Images]

David Rooney also wrote, in Hollywood Reporter, the film was “a big step down from Mad Max: Fury Road” with “little tension or fluidity in a narrative whose shapelessness is heightened by its pretentious chapter structure”.

But Geoffrey Macnab wrote, in the Independent, it “has the concentrated intensity of 2015’s Fury Road, to which it is a prequel, and yet it unfolds across a far broader canvas.

"Dialogue is kept to a minimum," he wrote.

"But even in an action role almost entirely bereft of quieter moments, Taylor-Joy is still able to convey plenty about Furiosa’s raw inner emotions.”

The film, which also stars Tom Burke and Alyla Browne, is set about 20 years before Fury Road, and we see Furiosa go from early childhood to becoming a warrior.

Chris Hemsworth and Anya Taylor-Joy in Cannes
[Getty Images]

Premiering out of competition at Cannes, it received a six-minute standing ovation - and Miller said it had, like Fury Road, ended up becoming "almost a feminist piece" by chance.

A story featuring a male hero freeing enslaved wives from a harem would have been "a different story than a female warrior", he said.

"It wasn't, 'Oh, 'let's make a feminist action film,' it was always driven by story."

Screen Daily’s Nikki Baughan called the “high-octane revenge thriller” a “blistering return” but added: “While Fury Road took place over just three days, lending it a non-stop kinetic energy, Furiosa spans 15 years, divided into several chapters, which results in slower and sometimes uneven pacing.”

The Daily Telegraph’s Robbie Collin called the film “cinema at its most soul-pricklingly primal”.

“It's the sort of film that makes you feel like the past century of Hollywood might have been a detour and the machine has now been hauled back on course,” he added.

Anya Taylor-Joy
Anya Taylor-Joy stars in the film [Getty Images]

But in Time, Stephanie Zacharek called it “all spectacle and no vision”.

“Despite its many, many action sequences, and a symphonic cacophony of motorbikes vrooming in the sand, the movie, divided into chapters with droney titles like Lessons from the Wasteland, evolves into a slog that’s working hard to persuade us we’re having a good time, though it may not be actually giving us one," she said.

Empire magazine’s John Nugent gave the film five stars and praised the lead actors, saying: “Taylor-Joy, in particular, is phenomenal, her big, intense eyes standing out starkly against her engine-oil-smeared forehead, emoting subtly in a dialogue-light role.

“Chris Hemsworth’s Dementus, meanwhile, is a talker - a charismatic, frequently shirtless and increasingly chaotic despot ruling his armada of bikers… from a petrol-powered Roman chariot.”

'Utterly stunning'

The Daily Mail’s Brian Viner also gave the film five stars, saying: “It is an absolute blast from start to finish, a worthy prequel to that high-octane 2015 blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road.

"It is utterly stunning on the eye, decidedly loud on the ear, and a 1,000-watt jolt to the spirits - I loved it.”

In the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw gave the film four stars, calling Taylor-Joy “tremendous” and saying she “sells this sequel”.

But Kevin Maher, in the Times, wrote: “After a thrilling opening chase scene, Furiosa is rapidly sunk by a slow-moving plot and weak performances.”