“Mad Max” is the best proof that films don’t have to have a sophisticated plot to be good. In George Miller’s legendary film series, a few criminal gangs rule in a post-apocalyptic desert. From spectacular stunts, great equipment, crash scenes and unusually turbulent camera perspectives, Miller has created an iconic franchise that earned him six Oscars in 2016 for the fourth film in the series. With its cult status and a star cast, the blockbuster is tailor-made for the Cannes Film Festival. The fifth part celebrated its premiere there – like its predecessor in 2015.

What’s different in the new “Mad Max”. 

In “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” a woman takes center stage for the first time. And that’s not the only innovation. The film has less action than its predecessor – but more plot. That might annoy some and please others. In any case, Miller has once again created a wild epic that impresses on the big screen with its breathtaking set design. 

Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”) and Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) convince in the leading roles. The two stars brought Hollywood glitz to Cannes on Wednesday evening. They gave autographs and took selfies to dozens of fans at the barriers before the audience in the festival palace saw the film. 

Pessimists might imagine our world in a few hundred years to be the same as in “Mad Max.” A few people live scattered in the desert and there is a bitter fight for resources. This is where Furiosa lives, embodied this time by Taylor-Joy. The film follows her as she is kidnapped from her homeland as a child by the warlord Dementus (Hemsworth) and his biker horde. Now she seeks revenge and also wants to return to her family after years of captivity.

Unlike its critically and audience-acclaimed predecessor “Mad Max: Fury Road” with Tom Hardy, this time the story spans not a few days, but around 15 years.

After their kidnapping, Furiosa and Dementus drive through the desert. They come across the warlord Immortan Joe, known from the previous film. He has the only water source in the wasteland under his control. As two tyrants, Dementus and Immortan Joe, fight for control of the region, Furiosa must overcome all sorts of life-threatening challenges as she tries to escape home.

This is how Hemsworth and Taylor-Joy fill their roles

Hemsworth embodies the villain in a funny and flamboyant manner. “We mustn’t be soft – so that we can survive in the wasteland,” he warns at one point. And mercilessly slaughters opponents, including Furiosa’s mother. At the same time, he always carries a small teddy bear with him. What the cuddly toy is all about is explained later in the film. 

Taylor-Joy doesn’t speak for long stretches of the film for certain reasons and therefore has to convey a lot with her gaze alone – which she does well.

Impressive desert images and analogue stunts

A film like “Furiosa” reminds you why you enjoy going to the cinema. Viewers can expect impressive wide-angle images of a desert landscape. With lots of blown sand and phenomenal light that bathes the wasteland in orange, beige, faded pink or hazy blue colors.

In its fifth sequel, the film has a little more plot and more exciting characters. There is still brutal action with imaginatively designed vehicles. You can tell how much effort and craftsmanship the team put into the stunts. 

The first Mad Max film starring Mel Gibson was released in 1979. Since then, Miller has become known as a director who always produces as much action as possible in analogue form. Film producer Doug Mitchell recently told Total Film magazine that a special 15-minute sequence in the new film took the team 78 days to complete, with nearly 200 stunt people working on it every day.

Miller said at the film festival that he initially never dreamed of making two of the “Mad Max” films. The series has grossed a total of several hundred million euros (although production costs are now very high). Miller has managed to maintain a high level of quality since 1979. In Cannes he revealed whether fans can hope for a sequel. “Well, there are certainly more stories there,” he said. “But I’ll definitely wait and see how this one does before we even think about it.”