A while back I posted my Top 10 Movie Trilogies and even though it was well received, the big question (apart from why the fuck was Lord Of The Rings at number 9) was, where in tarnation was the Mad Max trilogy?!
Truth be told, I’ve never really cared for the Mad Max films. I enjoyed them when I was younger, and I particularly liked the newest movie Mad Max: Fury Road, but were the original three worthy of being called one of the greatest trilogies of all time?
Why I Re-entered the Thunderdome
This weekend, the wife and I popped to London’s West End to see the Tina Turner Musical. I’m not into all that fruity theatre lark, but it was a Christmas present to my wife and sometimes, we dudes have to step up and take the little lady out for the weekend.
To be fair, the show itself was pretty great and one particular scene introduced a snippet of We Don’t Need Another Hero from Mad Max: Beyond The Thunderdome. So, whilst pretend Tina took another pretend beating from pretend Icke, it dawned on me to revisit the trilogy when I got home. Here goes.
Mad Max is the story that takes place in a dystopian Australia in the near future, where society is on the brink of complete collapse primarily due to widespread oil shortages and ecocide. Max Rockatansky (a very young King Mel) is a highway patrolman working for Main Force Patrol (MFP) – one of the last remaining law enforcement agencies.
We all know the story so I won’t bore off about it but Mad Max was so much better than I remembered it being. A gloriously low-budget Australian movie that is astonishingly 45 years old this year. This movie was made for just $300,000 and has led to this franchise making $380 million since.
Mad Max has none of the fancy production or any razzamatazz that plagues modern-day movies, it is raw, brutal and it is beautiful. Mad Max is basic filmmaking 101. George Miller captures a genuine sense of comradery among the members of the MFP who seem to enjoy being let off the leash to punish the criminals out on the road without any prying eyes. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t enjoy that?!
Max is also a husband and a father who is desperately trying to keep some element of law and order in a world that is going more and more tits up every day.
On the flip side, you have Toecutter and his gang, also known as The Zed Runners or The Acolytes, who are the complete reversal of Max and his MFP team. Toecutter (what a simplistic and glorious name) spend their days rampaging across Oz, causing nothing but destruction, rape and murder without remorse.
Fun fact: The gang was made up of the real biker gang called The Vigilantes. The group joined the production after Miller posted an ad in a bike shop window. They also performed many of the stunts in the movie.
One scene that brought home how brutal this film is was when the Acotyles chase down a young couple just to rape them both. There’s a scene of the aftermath that shows the young man running away with blood over his arse cheeks and down his legs… WTF Miller?!
Mad Max is chock full of depravity and brutality. Max’s MFP partner is burned to a crisp in a revenge attack. Mrs. Max and Max Jnr are slain in cold blood not long after a nice series of events where you think everything is going to end up roses. And even though Max gets his revenge, it comes at an unimaginable cost.
George Miller took no hostages in this movie and I am now an avid fan of what I once thought was a movie that was little more than an excuse to film loads of car chases.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Mad Max 2 is set just a few years after the first part and we now find the world in an even more chaotic state. It has descended into a level of desperate barbarism which makes the first movie feel like a paradise.
The Road Warrior is tonely a lot different from Mad Max and it’s evident that humanity has now reached the point of no return. Global war has laid waste to everything and we now see a world that we seem depressingly hell-bent on creating today.
Max now scavenges the Australian wasteland for food. Gasoline has now become the number one currency. After an altercation with a group of marauders led by the unhinged biker called Wez (and his boyfriend… Miller, something you want to tell us?!).
Max stumbles upon the community of survivors who are protecting a small oil refinery and are under siege from a warlord called Lord Humungus. This big dude happens to be wearing a hockey mask and clad in… gay biker gear (again, Miller, WTF man?!)
Miller had a budget that was 10 times that of Mad Max. This allowed him to up the ante and hats off to him for not going full Hollywood. Mad Max 2 is just as grounded and raw as its predecessor. This movie is up there with the rarity of sequels that are better than the first.
We get to see King Mel discover his niche as the anti-hero, driven crazy by a personal tragedy that would serve him well in the Lethal Weapon movies. Once again, I find myself falling in love with this franchise and am now kicking myself for not having it in my Top 10 Trilogies.
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
And now we arrive at the movie starring the late, great Tina Turner and the reason for me rediscovering Mad Max. I can’t wait for this.
MILLER, WTF?! Everything that made the first two great has been abandoned for what is nothing more than Hook with cars. Absolute dog shit. My original Top 10 stands.
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